Van Gaal reveals why he’s been resting Marcus Rashford

Getty Images

Louis Van Gaal has been resting Marcus Rashford in training because the 18-year-old’s goals have become essential to their top four challenge.

[ MORE: Howard chats to JPW ]

A product of Manchester United’s academy and a local lad, Rashford has scored seven goals in his first 12 games as a professional after being thrust into the limelight due to an injury pile-up at Old Trafford.

Speaking ahead of United’s game against Crystal Palace on Wednesday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET online via Live Extra) at Old Trafford, Van Gaal was asked about keeping red-hot Rashford fresh.

“I have changed him after 70 minutes, I believe, and that is also to give him a little bit of rest,” Van Gaal explained. “He didn’t train the day after and also the day after that he didn’t train. I want to keep him fresh because he is in the momentum of scoring and that is very important for him but also for the team.”

This is quite the statement from Van Gaal.

Not only does it suggest that Rashford will be an integral figure in this team for the remainder of this season, it also seems likely that if LVG remains in charge at Old Trafford next season (a big if, mind) then Rashford will be given the chance to prove his worth over an entire campaign.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

With Wayne Rooney returning from injury in the past week, the skipper played in a deeper No. 10 role in the 1-0 win against Aston Villa last weekend and was brilliant on the ball and helped set up Rashford’s game-winning goal.

Rashford’s link-up play with Anthony Martial has been telepathic and the young man from Manchester has a knack of scoring big goals in big games. He’s scored twice in the Europa League win over FC Midtjylland, twice in a crucial win against Arsenal and curled in a stunner against West Ham in the FA Cup quarterfinal replay win last week.

With United’s FA Cup semifinal coming up against Everton at Wembley on Saturday, it will be interesting to see how long Rashford plays against Palace on Wednesday.

Burnout shouldn’t be an issue as he’s only arrived on the scene in the past two months but with many calling for Rashford to get a shout for Roy Hodgson’s England squad this summer at EURO 2016, the youngster will want to play as often as he can.

Turns out Van Gaal wants that too as he’s got a new go-to striker. Nobody expected Rashford to be his man but the Dutch coach has a history of getting the best out of young, hungry strikers. Do the names Patrick Kluivert and Thomas Muller ring a bell?

I thought so.