Manchester United's Marcus Rashford 'special' like Harry Kane - Jermain Defoe

Jermain Defoe has told ESPN FC that Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford is a "special" talent that can become as important to England as Harry Kane.

Rashford, 20, is expected to feature against Croatia in Rijeka on Friday as Gareth Southgate's team face their World Cup semifinal opponents for the first time since losing 2-1 in extra-time in July.

He has scored in his last two appearances for England, against Switzerland and Spain, to take his overall goal haul to five in 27 appearances, but Bournemouth forward Defoe, who has seen Rashford at first hand during international breaks with Southgate's squad, believes that the striker will soon take his game to another level and become a prolific scorer for club and country.

"I love Marcus Rashford," Defoe told ESPN FC. "I think it's just a matter of time before he actually goes on and score 20-25 goals in a season and then he would really kick on.

"What he has got, he can become so special.

"He has speed and I've seen him do things in training that make you go 'Wow!'

"This kid is going to be special and he will go on and have that season where he scores a lot of goals and becomes more confident to kick on from there."

Rashford's emergence at United since breaking into the first-team as a 17-year-old under Louis van Gaal in February 2016 has seen him participate in two major tournaments for England.

He remains behind Tottenham striker Kane in the international pecking order, with the England captain hitting 19 goals in 32 games for his country, as well as returning from the World Cup with the Golden Boot as top scorer.

And having trained and played alongside an emerging Kane at Tottenham, Defoe said that the 25-year-old's progress has been no surprise.

"Harry Kane, the standards that he has set and all the goals he has scored -- we know we've got an amazing goalscorer in Harry and he is always going to score goals, at every level," Defoe said.

"It was always going to be the case from when I saw him as a youngster at Tottenham. He's a natural goalscorer.

"We've always had natural goalscorers. Maybe years ago, we always had more than one -- Ian Wright, Andy Cole. Teddy Sheringham scored a lot of goals, Alan Shearer, Robbie Fowler.

"We've definitely got that in Harry. Going to the World Cup, if you speak to him, he probably feels that he could have done better.

"It was difficult for him because he got the injury before the tournament, but he still managed to go there and get the Golden Boot."