Jose Mourinho has assured Marcus Rashford he still has a key role to play at Manchester United.
Rashford, who made a stunning breakthrough at United last season, has struggled this term, making just 18 starts from 45 games.
But with United’s top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic starting a three-match ban tonight, Rashford is in line to start against Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
United boss Mourinho said this season was always going to be a learning curve for Rashford, but said he still has faith in the 19-year-old and what he can offer.
“I knew that it would be a very difficult season for him, after the season of surprise,” said Mourinho.
“It was a season without pressure, a season where nobody demands, nobody knows him, he comes in and makes an impact, he feels free.
“He’s just a kid that’s enjoying his football. The second season was always going to be a difficult one, but I think the third season is going to be the good one again.
“The second season is the difficult one, it’s the pressure, it’s the people that know him, it’s the expectation and is he a national team player, is he in the line up for the club?
“Should he go to the Euro 21s or not? Having all these things around him doesn’t give him an easy season, but he’s a good kid, a good humble boy and he tries to learn with every experience.”
Rashford started United’s last FA Cup game, a 2-1 win at Blackburn, scoring United’s equaliser, although Mourinho was reluctant to confirm if he will start at Stamford Bridge.
“He’s a good kid with a good mentality, and now we have three matches without Zlatan,” said Mourinho.
“So it’s him, Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney and let’s forget Zlatan. I never speak about the players who aren’t available, so Zlatan isn’t available and I’m not going to cry about it.
“Marcus is playing well. He played centre forward in some matches, but and I’m not even telling you that he’s going to start against Chelsea.
“But he’s having his opportunities, his minutes, he’s having lots of experiences, so I’m happy.
“I think the third season is one with more maturity. He can build on his experiences, so I’m sure the third season will be better than the second.”