Rashford may hit headlines but it’s no regrets for goal hero Ash

Ashley Fletcher celebrates Barnsleys play-off final triumph
Ashley Fletcher celebrates Barnsleys play-off final triumph
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Hot prospect Ashley Fletcher cannot help up but wonder what would have happened if he had stayed at Manchester United this season.

Star striker Marcus Rashford might have been writing the headlines at Old Trafford and for his England call-up for the forthcoming Euros, but Fletcher has been making giant strides of his own.

And the 20-year-old would not for a second have changed his decision to join Barnsley on loan in a memorable season which yielded double honours.

First the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy title and then on Sunday a sweet victory in the League One play-off final at Wembley.

He scored in both of the Reds’ fine Wembley wins and is looking to kick on next season with the club having won promotion back to the Championship.

“It is strange to think what might have happened if I had stayed at United and not gone on loan, when you see what took place with Marcus [Rashford],” admitted Fletcher.

“Part of you thinks ‘it could have been me’. But football is funny like that – opportunities can crop up at any time for people.

“And the main thing is that I am very proud of what I have done since I came to Barnsley.

“I have helped the team and who knows what could happen in the future.

“Hopefully people might think of us together as young players at United, but what Marcus has done is unbelievable. Scoring for United’s first team, scoring for England.

“He deserves every bit of the attention he is getting – but maybe I can run him for his place next season at United if I am back there.

“We have played together at most age groups at United – Under 16s, Under 18s, Under 21s, and to play one day together in the first team would be amazing, a huge achievement.

“I’d like to think if Jose [Mourinho] was watching it [the League One play-off final], it might have given him something to smile about.

“I’d like to think that some of us youngsters might do a job for him but Manchester United is a huge club and have to spend big money to compete for the Premier League title.”

Fletcher bagged nine goal in 27 appearances for the Reds last season and played a key role in the club’s amazing turnaround in their fortunes.

At the end of November the club were rooted to the foot of League One, but under the stewardship of first, former boss Lee Johnson, and now caretaker boss Paul Heckingbottom, they have gone on to achieve great things.

And Heckingbottom, for one, has no doubts that it could have easily been Fletcher who was steeling the headlines at Old Trafford this season instead of new sensation Rashford.

“I don’t know the pecking order there, but if he wasn’t here he could have been making his debut instead of Rashford,” said Heckingbottom.

“I think he will get better and better. United will have seen his progression and they’ll know he has the attributes to get better.”