Marcus Rashford dropped from England squad for March friendlies

Jadon Sancho and Kyle Walker are also omitted from the squad with Marc Guehi earning a first call-up

<p>Manchester United and England international Marcus Rashford</p>

Manchester United and England international Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford has been dropped from the England squad for the forthcoming international friendlies against Switzerland and Ivory Coast, putting his place at this year's World Cup finals in doubt.

The Manchester United forward has suffered a dramatic collapse of form this season and struggled regular playing time, having only started three league games since the turn of the year.

Jadon Sancho and Kyle Walker have also been omitted from manager Gareth Southgate’s squad, though there is a first call-up for Crystal Palace defender Marc Guehi.

Rashford was included in the initial squad for November's World Cup qualifiers against Albania and San Marino only to withdraw in order to "concentrate on regaining full fitness".

The 24-year-old's last appearance for England was in the Euro 2020 final against Italy, when he was introduced as a late substitute to take a penalty in the shoot-out and missed.

Rashford's exclusion from England's final get-together before the end of the domestic season raises doubts over whether he will be selected for the finals in Qatar later this year.

Southgate has two further international windows, in June and September, before selecting the final 23-man squad for the tournament.

Sancho has not been included in either of England’s last two international squads

On Rashford’s omission, the England manager said: “He's in the same position as everybody else. If they're in the squad or not, they have to play well over the next period towards the end of this season and the beginning of next season.

“It's a difficult time for him, he clearly not at his best. We know a lot about Marcus anyway, we know what he can bring to us and hopefully he can rediscover that form we know he’s capable of.”

Sancho was left out of the squad for November’s internationals after struggling to adapt to his new surroundings at United following his move from Borussia Dortmund.

Southgate admitted that the 21-year-old’s form has improved since under the guidance of interim manager Ralf Rangnick, though said that rivals in his position did not deserve to lose thier place.

“The other attacking players in the squad are slightly ahead of him at the moment in our feeling. Foden, Sterling, Saka, Smith Rowe, Grealish - if you look at the seasons they've had.

“Jadon without a doubt over the last few weeks, his performances have improved but it’s an area of the field with big competition for places and we've got those guys slightly ahead.”

Southgate added that Walker’s omission is temporary and due to him wanting to give more experience to fellow right-backs Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

“With Kyle, I had a long chat with him. We felt this is an opportunity to look at the two younger full-backs,” he said. “We know all there is to know about Kyle, he'll be back with us in June.

“We're very happy with what he's done, he's an important part of the progress we've made as a team and you can see in the biggest matches for Manchester City this year he's still been such a key player for them. But these young full-backs are exciting, we need to given them opportunities as well.”

Southgate added: “With Marc [Guehi], he's had a really consistent season, I've been very impressive with him on and off the ball. In the biggest games he's been very calm. We know a lot about him through our development teams as well.”

“He's a junior World Cup winner. There are some centre-halves that are pushing and were very close. But we've added Marc and Ben White this time and we think it's a good opportunity to see two slightly younger players and hope they cope with being with us.”

England squad to play Switzerland and Ivory Coast

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale, Nick Pope

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Conor Coady, Marc Guehi, Reece James, Harry Maguire, Tyrone Mings, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Ben White

Midfielders: Jude Bellingham, Conor Gallagher, Mason Mount, Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice, James Ward-Prowse

Forwards: Tammy Abraham, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Raheem Sterling

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