Gary Neville defends Man Utd’s Marcus Rashford in Cristiano Ronaldo comparison

Gary Neville has defended Marcus Rashford's strike rate at Man Utd and claims the forward is performing no worse than Cristiano Ronaldo was at that age.

Rashford has been sidelined since January with injury, but still managed to bag 19 goals in 31 appearances across all competitions for his side.

There has been a lot of expectation on the 22-year-old this season, as he has led the line in United's attack following the departures of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez.

And he faced some criticism earlier in the campaign, having scored just once from open play in the first 10 games (plus twice from the penalty spot).

But Neville feels Rashford is still at the start of his journey, and must be nurtured further for United to reap the full benefits.

He said to Goal : "Marcus Rashford, to be fair, is still a young player [who’s] developing, he needs to be persisted with.

“He will be persisted with because Manchester United believe in him, and they should believe in him because he’s a great talent.

“When you’re sort of a young player… Alan Shearer didn’t score a goal a game at Southampton when he first broke in. Simple as that.

“Cristiano [Ronaldo] didn’t do it at Manchester United when he first came to Manchester. We shouldn’t be expecting the same of Marcus Rashford."

Shearer made 118 appearances for Southampton at the start of his career, scoring 23 times in total, before sealing a move to Blackburn aged 22 – the same as Rashford now.

By contrast, Rashford has already amassed 201 appearances for United, and netted 64 goals.

Ronaldo moved to United from Sporting Lisbon at the tender age of 18, and made 129 appearances in his first four seasons, scoring 35 times in the process, though most of those were as a right-winger.

Rashford has this week been hailed along with fellow academy graduate Mason Greenwood as the best homegrown strikers in the country.

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