Marcus Rashford is confident England are heading in the right direction to becoming the “number one team in the world”.

21-year-old Rashford is one of the new crop of young players to emerge for England since debuting in May 2016.

The Manchester United striker has bagged six goals and provided three assists in 31 appearances at international level. He was even a key part of the squad that reached the 2018 World Cup semi-finals in Russia.

The Three Lions also finished top of Group A4 ahead of Spain and Croatia to qualify for the UEFA Nations League finals.

Therefore, Rashford is feeling optimistic over England’s future given the progress made in the last 12 months.

“There are signs we are heading in the right direction,” he told the Daily Mirror.

“Before the World Cup, we were winning games and playing good football but when it came to games against the big teams – the elite nations we want to be amongst – we fell short a couple of times.

“But this last year we have played Spain and Croatia and managed to get over the line. It shows we are improving.

“The World Cup was the start of a journey, rather than the end of an adventure. Because since then we have kicked on. We’ve changed the system but have kicked on.”

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He added: “If we want to get to our aim of being the number one team in the world, we have to beat the best teams.”

Now, Gareth Southgate’s side will be taking on the Netherlands on Thursday in the Nations League semi-finals. Victory will grant them a spot in the final against either hosts Portugal or Switzerland.

And Rashford is keenly eyeing up the opportunity to end England’s 53-year wait for glory this summer.

“Holland will be tough, but we are determined to do well. Not long ago, back at the Euros in 2016, I don’t think our fans believed we could win something,” he said.

“I think that is different now. It’s been a long time since we won something so it would be nice.”

He added: “We are approaching this Nations League as though it is a major tournament, 100 per cent.

“We want our names to be first in the history books. Who knows? In the future, it could grow into a big, big tournament.”

Rashford’s England team-mate Raheem Sterling also talked up their prospects for the Nations League.

BURTON-UPON-TRENT, ENGLAND – MAY 28: Marcus Rashford of England (R) challenges for the ball with Jonjoe Kenny of England during an England training session at St Georges Park on May 28, 2019 in Burton-upon-Trent, England. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

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