'Inconceivable' not to pick Marcus Rashford for senior squad - Southgate
England manager Gareth Southgate ended the possibility of a club versus country row over Manchester United's Marcus Rashford by saying it was "inconceivable" to leave him out of the senior set-up.
Midway through the season, the 19-year-old United striker looked set to spend his summer at the Under-21 European Championship -- a prospect that met with a frosty reception at Old Trafford.
But Southgate stepped in after Rashford enjoyed a strong second half of the season, including him ahead of United teammate Wayne Rooney in a 25-man squad to face Scotland in a World Cup qualifier on June 10 and France in a friendly three days later.
While Rooney's England days appear to be all but over, Rashford is now seen as a Three Lions mainstay and will not be asked to turn out for Aidy Boothroyd's U21 side in Poland.
"It would be inconceivable not to put him in the senior squad. He is in the squad on merit and has been for a year," Southgate told the official Football Association website.
"The question then is: could he have gone with the U21s after that? In my opinion, no. He's a 19-year-old player who's had an exceptional season and by then will have had virtually 60 matches.
"Somebody has to protect him. Somebody has to manage the development of a young player, and that has to be my call."
Southgate said he had been erring towards handing Rashford tournament experience with the U21s earlier in the season, adding: "In January, he wasn't a regular in Manchester United's team and he hadn't done quite as well for us in November.
"In March, it was important that he was with the senior squad as we didn't have Harry Kane, Daniel Sturridge or Danny Welbeck. His impact on our games [against Germany and Lithuania] and the way he trained with us was very impressive.
"He then went back to Manchester United and was in their team right the way through to the end of the season, playing in big high-pressure matches. His mentality has been excellent and his performances have been very, very good."
Southgate said he was looking forward to the challenge of the Scotland game, describing it as "one of football's great fixtures."
''We're in a place in the group where a win can really put us in a very strong position, and that's what we want to achieve," he added.
''France is a great challenge for us. Our ambition with our friendly matches is to play the best possible teams -- we've done that by playing Spain and Germany already. They're teams we want to test ourselves against and these are great opportunities to learn and improve."