Four ways Manchester United can replace Marcus Rashford in next game v Aston Villa

Marcus Rashford looks like he could do with a break right now, an extensive one. The Manchester United and England forward is 11 games without a goal and his performances are getting progressively worse, bordering on unacceptable.

At this stage it appears that continuing to play Rashford is doing him more harm than good. Interim boss Ralf Rangnick needs to consider taking him out of the side for his own sake.

United’s next fixture is away at Aston Villa, before the rearranged game at Brentford, a home game against West Ham, and then a FA Cup fixture at home to Middlesbrough.

The next step for Rangnick after taking a decision to omit Rashford, is to work out who replaces him. Here is a look at four possible ways to do so…

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Anthony Elanga

The popular choice: Anthony Elanga impressed with his cameo performance against Aston Villa, and his combination of pace and willingness to run at defenders makes him a difficult player for opponents to deal with.

Elanga, 19, plays with a fearlessness clearly lacking from Marcus Rashford’s own game right now, and United need players with this kind of attitude.

Ralf Rangnick clearly likes Elanga, and whether it comes against Villa, West Ham, or Middlesbrough in the cup, it’s likely we see the Swedish youngster given a first team start over the next three games at some stage.

Elanga would be the popular choice to replace Rashford, and he can make a real name for himself if he seizes his chance and builds on his promising performance.

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Jadon Sancho

The most likely option: Jadon Sancho missed the FA Cup tie due to injury, and if he is fit enough to start the Premier League game at the weekend, he probably will.

While young himself, Sancho has far more experience than Elanga, and it is more likely Rangnick goes with him as a Rashford alternative.

Sancho has played on the left numerous times in his career, and can also play inside centrally if Rangnick chooses to shift back towards a 4-2-2-2.

Anthony Martial

The unlikely choice: The desperate call would be for Rangnick to bring Anthony Martial back into the first team squad for the first time since he took charge.

Now fit again after injury, Martial is hoping to move on. But so far there have been no suitable offers for him.

United could use Martial to try and give Rashford a break, he can’t be worse, and also to try and put him in the shop window.

It’s probably unlikely Rangnick budges on Martial, but he did not foresee Rashford playing this badly, and may need to temporarily adjust his stance on the France forward.

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Change the system

The easy excuse: Rashford can drop to the bench without United calling up any of the like for like replacements listed above.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to the side can see United revert back to playing two up front with Edinson Cavani, squeezing Rashford out of the line-up.

With Ronaldo and Cavani up front there is no real other role which suits Rashford, unless United go with an ultra-attacking 4-1-3-2, and this seems an unlikely cavalier way to start a fixture.

The 4-4-2 diamond formation which United ended the game against Villa with does not really have space for Rashford if he is not one of the two forwards, and it is more likely Rangnick goes with this, than sticks with the 4-2-3-1 again.

A shift in formation also allows United to find space for either Donny van de Beek or Jesse Lingard a little easier, possibly at Rashford’s expense.

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