Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has said elite players need more rest between matches to reduce risk of injury and believes it is “mad” some clubs play around 20 more games per season than others in the same division.

United’s 62-game campaign ended with an FA Cup Final defeat to Manchester City, who completed the treble in the 60th game of their season by beating Inter Milan in Saturday’s Champions League showpiece.

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That number contrasts markedly with several other Premier League teams — including Aston Villa, Brentford, Crystal Palace and Everton, who all played 41 times — and Rashford claimed the disparity is placing excessive strain on the game’s biggest players.

After an exhausting fixture list that included the first-ever winter World Cup in the middle of the European season, an international window completes the schedule with England facing Malta and North Macedonia in a Euro 2024 qualification double-header, concluding on Monday.

Asked if the calendar needs looking at, Rashford replied: “To be honest, I think that is evident. It is mad that we were playing at club level against teams that are playing one game a week and we’re playing three game a week from November up until we got knocked out of the Europa League. It is difficult but at the same time we are used to doing it. But I don’t think it is right.”

Pushed on if he’d spoken to other players about the greater risk of injury, Rashford continued: “Not this season but in the earlier stages of my career, I just couldn’t make sense of it.

“I know some managers have spoken out about it. But if one team is playing 60 games and another team is playing 38, there needs to be some time for teams playing those 20 extra games to recover and to be able to prepare properly for the game.

“Listen, the players are going to push ourselves to the absolute limits. It is nothing new. So it is not a complaint or a dig, I’m just giving you my honest opinion. I don’t think it is correct. I think we should be given more time to recover in between certain games and at different stages of the season as well.

“That’s just my personal opinion on it. The players shouldn’t have to put ourselves in a position to speak out about something that we’re not in control of or are going to make the final decision on.”

Rashford withdrew from England’s previous squad in March through injury only to then fly to New York for a short break.

Although England boss Gareth Southgate defended Rashford’s decision to travel, the 25-year-old faced criticism in some quarters over his commitment to the cause.

While he played at last year’s World Cup and the delayed Euro 2020 finals, Rashford’s last start in a qualifier came against Kosovo in November 2019.

“I didn’t see it [the criticism] until I got home,” said Rashford. “Obviously I need time to switch off and recover. So I took a short trip, four days, and then went back to do rehab and just try and get ready as soon as possible.

“Injuries, you can’t predict when they are going to happen. Thankfully, I have had very few muscle strains and those type of injuries. Occasionally you do get impact injuries and the majority of my injuries have been that.

“Honestly, I know that I am committed to it 100%. People are going to say what they are going to say. It doesn’t really bother me.”

Five players from United’s fierce rivals Manchester City — Jack Grealish, Kyle Walker, Kalvin Phillips, Phil Foden and John Stones — joined up with their England team-mates at St George’s Park late on Tuesday and Rashford admitted City’s treble celebrations had an effect on him.

“To be honest, it is not nice but at the same time, it is football,” he added. “The best team that is consistently playing the best football is going to win the most trophies. They’ve managed to win three this year and well done to them.

“Obviously, we just move on now. It is up to them to keep it up and up to the rest of us to try and catch them up. Does it give me extra motivation? Yeah, 100%.”

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Marcus Rashford: Elite players need more rest between games