MARCUS RASHFORD is playing football with a smile on his face again.
Now he could be beaming from ear to ear as part of Gareth Southgate’s England squad in Qatar next month.
The Three Lions boss was at Old Trafford to witness Rashford hammer home a header to grab his 100th Manchester United goal.
If Southgate wants players in form when he chooses his final 26 man squad on November 10th then Rashford’s name has to be on the list.
The last time Rashford kicked a ball for England it was in missing a penalty in the Euro 2020 final shoot-out final against Italy.
Form and fitness problems have not seen him figure for his country since.
Certainly last season there was no reason why he should have been picked while he was not available in the last international break due to an injury.
But he is fit and firing again.
Only last week he summed up where he is at right now saying: “I feel like I’m getting there. I’m a lot more happy, I’m enjoying myself a lot more.
“I’m just looking forward to the games.”
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You can see the confidence flowing through the 24-year-old as he became the first United player to reach that 100 goal milestone since Wayne Rooney back in 2009.
Of the many depressing sights watching this team last season the drop off in form from Rashford was one of the most troubling.
Interim boss Ralf Rangnick had said that his form in training warranted a place in the team but he just could not replicate it on match day.
Erik ten Hag who said from day one he had faith in Rashford.
He promised him a run as a number nine and was true to his word.
As in this game, he can be possibly even more effective from that position wide left, as Cristiano Ronaldo was preferred up front.
Last Thursday he proved he can even fit in the number ten role as he came on to play just behind Ronaldo.
It was a combination that impressed Ten Hag as both players scored in the second half of that Europa League game.
His adaptability has to be another plus when Southgate is making his mind up.
Rashford now has seven goals for the season but it is seeing his faith in his own abilities on the ball that will gladden the hearts of United fans as much as the goals.
United have been dominating teams at Old Trafford from the off and this was no different.
West Ham were pushed back from the first whistle and were just trying to stifle and earn something on the break in the first period.
The Red Devils just needed patience as they probed for the opening and it came on 38 minutes
Diogo Dalot threw the ball in to Eriksen, who offloaded it to Bruno Fernandes, who nodded it back to the great Dane.
Eriksen’s control and delivery was then sublime, chesting the ball down taking a touch and arching a far post cross over on the half-volley.
Rashford had anticipated it and flew in ahead of Thilo Kehrer with a perfectly time run and leap to meet the ball and power a header past Fabianski.
There was more of the same from Ten Hag’s men in the second half with Ronaldo having three chances in a couple of minutes just past the hour.
The first from Luke Shaw’s cross saw the ball skim off the top of his head and go wide.
The second when put down a channel by Rashford saw him screw his shot wide and the last was deflected over.
Not long ago two of those would have been buried.
The Hammers were having to show more attacking intent and looked much more of a threat in the second period.
David De Gea’s heroics in the final ten minutes really did save the day and left former Manchester United boss David Moyes a frustrated figure.
In a frantic closing period De Gea tipped over substitute Michael Antonio’s long range shot and clawed away Kurt Zouma’s header.
Jarrod Bowen scuffed a great chance from close range that deflected away from goal.
The best of De Gea’s saves came at full stretch to deny a thunderous drive from Rice.
United held out. They are a tough nut to crack now and this was a fifth clean sheet in six.
The corner continues to be turned under the new boss.