News From Manchester: Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford have already set Erik ten Hag a challenge at Manchester United – George Smith

The Manchester United pair have been left out of Gareth Southgate's plans for next month's UEFA Nations League fixtures against Hungary (X2), Germany and Italy, leaving their World Cup aspirations in doubt. It is the second squad announcement in a row they have not featured in, after being left out for the March internationals against Switzerland and the Ivory Coast.

Southgate, instead, has opened the door for West Ham United ace Jarrod Bowen to earn his first call-up, whilst senior figures Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane remain at the forefront of his plans. In fairness, however, Bowen deserves his first taste of international football, enjoying a far more productive campaign than Sancho and Rashford.

But with the United duo having now been left out of two consecutive England squads, their World Cup hopes are beginning to fade fast, with the start of the tournament in Qatar now just six months away. The pair, not that long ago, were being tipped to become the future of the national team, lining up on either flank and supporting Kane in attack.

The truth is, however, neither of them have done enough in the past 12 months to be guaranteed places within the squad, let alone justify becoming regular starters. Southgate knows who he can trust and Manchester City ace Sterling remains his most valued winger, regularly producing the goods when sporting a Three Lions shirt.

Sancho and Rashford, by comparison, although it is important to stress that opportunities have not been as forthcoming for them on the international stage, have only scored 15 goals in 69 England caps between them. They have never fully established themselves as regular starters under Southgate and have only racked up 73 minutes worth of international football between them (just Sancho) since each missing a penalty against Italy in the final of the European Championship almost 12 months ago.

But it isn't just in an England shirt where they have struggled for the past year. Neither of them hit the levels expected of them for United this season, with Rashford looking unrecognisable of his usual self and Sancho taking several months to adapt to Premier League life after his move from Borussia Dortmund. Between them, they scored just ten goals in 70 appearances.

Admittedly, it is harder for any player to flourish in a team that is under-performing and struggling collectively, but that is not going to earn them the sympathy vote from Southgate in his decision-making. However, if that was the case, you could argue why Harry Maguire has made his way into the squad after such a disappointing campaign. The truth is, he is a key part of his plans – Sancho and Rashford are not.

However, this summer will mark the beginning of a new dawn at United and the slate will be wiped clean for everyone, with new manager Erik ten Hag having picked up the baton from Ralf Rangnick. He will be tasked with transforming United's fortunes and countless players within the squad will be hoping he can help them, both collectively and individually.

And you could argue that nobody needs more guidance and support than Sancho and Rashford. They both experienced countless difficulties this season, rarely living up to their true standards. However, it cannot be denied that they are both exceptional talents when performing with confidence and playing with a spring in their step.

As Ten Hag looks to implement attack-minded football at Old Trafford, Sancho and Rashford, equipped with their pace and trickery, could each play pivotal roles in a new-look approach, so long as they are given a project to invest in and a plan to follow. By the time the new Premier League season starts, the start of the World Cup will be a little over three months away, meaning Southgate, by that stage, will already be preparing his squad for the September internationals – England's last dance ahead of the tournament.

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