Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho on Friday hit out at critics who have questioned whether Marcus Rashford should leave Old Trafford for more game time following his two goals for England during the international break.
Per Rob Dawson of ESPN FC, the United manager came prepared with the 20-year-old's statistics under his stewardship, noting Rashford has "had 105 appearances, 5,774 mins, 63.7 matches of 90 minutes, including five finals," in the two full seasons Mourinho has been in charge.
He then added that Rashford is not like Dominic Solanke, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Dominic Calvert-Lewin—other English youngsters who have struggled for first-team action—before predicting he would receive criticism for not playing him against Watford on Saturday despite him being suspended:
"I think I can expect that Sunday I'm going to be highly criticised for not playing him because some of the boys are really obsessed with me and some of them have a problem with some compulsive lies. I can expect that Sunday some of them will wake up in the morning and the first thing they think is Jose Mourinho, so I can imagine on Sunday I am going to be criticised for not playing Marcus but it's not my fault, he's suspended.
"Probably you should remind them he is suspended and cannot play. His performances with England, of course I'm happy, he played well, competed well, he scored and especially in a period where he comes with some sadness after his suspension it was very good that he did that."
During the international break Rashford scored during England's 2-1 defeat to Spain and in their 1-0 win over Switzerland.
Mourinho feels the prevailing belief that he is starving Rashford of first-team action is false, and he may have a point.
Despite having been a fixture at United in four different campaigns, Rashford is still only 20.
His opportunities have been more limited since Alexis Sanchez's arrival in January, but the stats do support Mourinho's claim that he gives Rashford plenty of opportunities, as Opta highlighted:
A more valid criticism to launch at Mourinho is that he rarely allows Rashford the chance to play as a No. 9, as Romelu Lukaku is the undisputed striker.
Rashford will miss United's next three Premier League games after being sent off in the 2-0 victory over Burnley last time out.
However, he may well find himself in action on Wednesday, when United kick off their 2018-19 UEFA Champions League campaign at Young Boys.