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Chris Smalling praise team-mate Marcus Rashford

Chris Smalling has recalled how impressed he was by “special talent” Marcus Rashford in his first training session with the Manchester United squad.

Marcus Rashford signed a new long-term contract with his boyhood club on Monday, the latest development in the 21-year-old’s meteoric rise through the academy set-up to the first team.

Marcus Rashford, who scored twice on his Europa League and Premier League debuts against Midtjylland and Arsenal respectively, was thrust into the first team by former manager Louis van Gaal following an injury crisis in 2016.

But despite having little time to adjust to the rigours of senior football, team-mate Smalling says the squad immediately became aware of his quality, even in his first training session.

I remember, one time, the ball got played in behind and I can’t remember who was playing at left-back for us but I just saw Rashy zoom down to get the ball,” Smalling told the club’s website.

At that moment, everyone took notice of him. It was only a matter of a week or a couple of weeks after that when he made his debut and obviously hit the ground running. It was that first sprint down the wing, I think when a lot of us were asking: ‘Who is this kid?’

Smalling believes the manner in which Rashford adapted to life in the spotlight of the first team has been key to his success at the club.

I think he almost took it all in his stride. You could tell he was a confident kid,” added Smalling.

You need to be at this club, I think, and to be a number nine as well. You could tell he wasn’t fazed, coming up to the first team and being really thrown in, as you could see he was a special talent.

Although Rashford had a frustrating time last season, scoring on 10 occasions, the England striker is expected to play a starring role for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the upcoming campaign.

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