Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford admits he has enjoyed a “priceless” pre-season this summer following a season of disappointment.
The 24-year-old scored just five goals and registered two assists in 32 appearances as he lost his starting place at Old Trafford and dropped out of the England squad.
It was a poor season all round as United slumped to a sixth-place finish in the Premier League after early exits in the Champions League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup.
“I feel fit, I feel strong and we’ve come out of the trip without any injuries,” Rashford told the PA news agency after United’s final match of their pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia.
“For us, it’s definitely a positive thing to have a fully-fit squad ready to start the season. For me personally, it’s priceless to have the pre-season that I’ve had.
“Sometimes I don’t really take as much note of it because usually we’re playing games in the summer and stuff like that, so the next season sort of just rolls onto the previous season.
“But this year I’ve had time to break, rest, recover mentally and physically, and then I’ve had a proper pre-season.
“I feel really happy. I’m pleased that I managed to do that. I think it’s normal when we’re not performing as we should perform [that] you get criticised. It’s part and parcel of the game.
“I’ve always said that I’m my own harshest critic and I know when I’m not playing my best football and I know when I need to improve.
“Definitely last season was a time for me to reflect on. I’ve had the time off in the summer and a long pre-season, so I feel a lot more ready this season.
“I think it’s obviously difficult when you lose. We don’t like to lose and I think that’s just the same for everyone as an individual. When you are losing games and you’re not picking points, it’s difficult to enjoy yourself on the pitch.
“Hopefully we can start the season off a lot better than that but we have to use last season as fuel to improve and to prove that we’re better players than what we showed last year.”
Rashford, who featured in all four friendlies and scored against Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace, appears to be in confident mood as United prepare to get a new season started under new boss Erik ten Hag.
“He just wants us to be positive,” he said of the Dutchman’s demands on United’s attackers.
“He wants us to do everything in a positive manner, so for us it means a lot of forward runs, a lot of interchanging positions, trying to link with each other on the ball.
“It’s fun to play in, we’re enjoying it, so hopefully we can kick on and perform these type of performances come the season.”
Rashford has now gone over a year since last putting on an England shirt and he admits he has been given no indication by Gareth Southgate that he will return to the fold ahead of the winter World Cup.
“I’ve not spoken to [Gareth Southgate] since the summer, really,” he said.
“I’m not too sure but all I can do is try and do my best for United and then we’ll see what happens.”