Rashford looked uncomfortable when returning to the pitch, his movement was limited and it seemed likely he would be taken off during half-time. Antony was also seen warming up at the break and supporters feared the worst for the in-form Rashford.
The forward, who came close to scoring in the first 45 minutes when rounding Ederson, only to have a shot cleared from the line by Manuel Akanji, was expected to be replaced, but the electronic board was raised and a different number appeared.
The fourth official indicated that it was Anthony Martial who was leaving the pitch for Antony instead and Rashford simultaneously emerged from the tunnel to cheers from the Stretford End, who understood he was the most likely provider of a goal.
Rashford is the club&aposs leading goalscorer this season and it was a relief to see him re-emerge for the second half against Manchester City, while it was no surprise to see Martial manage just one half, in which he looked lacklustre and off the pace.
Erik ten Hag has confirmed Martial can not play 90 minutes in quick succession because of his physical condition but he struggled to even play 45 minutes against City.
He has missed 13 weeks of the season through hamstring, Achilles and back injuries, which suggests it&aposs about time the club cut their losses with the Frenchman, as his injury record has been horrendous, unfortunately.
Martial&aposs replacement, Antony, was expected to move to the right wing, his natural position, after his substitution, or perhaps even play on the opposite side, which would have left Bruno Fernandes on the right, but the change was a straight swap.
Antony started the second half as a No.9 and he continued down the middle until the end of the game, which was a surprise considering Rashford, who Ten Hag has often played as a striker this season, was still on the pitch.
There are no prizes for defenders in the Premier League who know the Brazilian has a preference for cutting inside, whilst he also stands at 5ft 6in. Antony is not made to be a centre-forward and the decision to play him there when Rashford was on the left wing was confirmation of where Ten Hag thinks the 25-year-old plays best, which has been a debate to resurface this term.
Rashford has played 14 games on the left wing and seven at centre-forward in this campaign and the bulk of his goals and assists – he has contributed a total of 16 goals and 6 assists in all competitions – have come from him starting in that wide position.
“I think I can play both [left and middle],” Rashford said in October. “The left side is probably more natural for me. I enjoy doing both, I&aposm just helping the team. I think that&aposs what is important and we have a lot of players in the squad who can play in different positions.”
His versatility has been appealing, of course, especially in a season in which Ronaldo departed and Martial has spent more time on the treatment table than on a football pitch, but Rashford has always been a better player on his &aposnatural&apos left side.
Such is his form, he was effective on the right side at the World Cup, which is a position he&aposs historically been poor playing in, but you could start Rashford anywhere at the moment and he&aposd probably still be one of the standout performers.
However, he is more explosive, dynamic and unpredictable on the left, which are three aspects of his game that have returned. Some have suggested the forward is himself again, but this version of Rashford is actually the best there&aposs ever been.
When playing with unbridled confidence, Rashford does not think about his next move, he merely acts and that has been seen again this season, but the player has sharpened his end product, which has seen him find the back of the net with ease.
Rashford is unstoppable in this form and he&aposs currently the best left-sided forward in the Premier League.