EPL

Lingard's World Cup realisation: Man Utd fringe man needs regular football

By Sports Desk October 07, 2021

Jesse Lingard knows he needs regular club football as the Manchester United man bids to nail down a place in the England squad.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has used Lingard sparingly this season, despite his remarkable performances on loan at West Ham last term.

Lingard declined to speak about the prospect of a new contract at Old Trafford, with his present deal due to expire at the end of this season.

But the attacking midfielder, whose 30th birthday will fall during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, is aware his England prospects could suffer if he is not playing regularly for his club.

After narrowly missing out on a place in the Euro 2020 squad, Lingard does not want to see another major tournament pass him by.

United are stocked with attacking talent and that is holding back Lingard's prospects of being a fixture in Solskjaer's starting XI.

"The World Cup's a long way away but obviously you need regular football," Lingard said in an England news conference.

"I was so close to going to the Euros. It's a big factor; if you're playing over 20-25 games, you're knocking on the door.

"So I think it does play a big part. At the moment I'm not doing any harm and if I keep performing well and doing well you never know what might happen.

"I'll keep confident in myself and when I get time on the pitch I'll carry on doing what I'm doing."

He has made only one start for Solskjaer in 2021-22, featuring from the first minute against West Ham in an EFL Cup third-round defeat.

That is the only game where he has played for longer than 24 minutes, but Lingard has strong evidence to call on when pointing to the overall level of his performances.

In 136 minutes of United action this season, spread across six games, he has scored twice and created three chances for others, one of which resulted in a goal.

He is outperforming his expected goals (xG) score of 0.59, which reflects the quality of chances, yet he is struggling to get ahead of the likes of Anthony Martial, whose data is not as impressive at this early stage of the campaign (three starts, 245 minutes, one goal, no assists, no chances created).

Lingard could face Andorra on Saturday, having scored twice against the minnows at Wembley last month, and for now at least he is firmly in favour with England boss Gareth Southgate.

Jadon Sancho may also feature against Andorra despite Southgate last week admitting the winger only scraped into the squad.

Sancho has played 436 minutes for United since arriving from Borussia Dortmund, and he has yet to score or assist on a goal, making a slow start at Old Trafford.

Lingard is convinced the 21-year-old will come good and show the form that made him a superstar of the Bundesliga and sealed a place in Southgate's Euro 2020 squad.

"We all know Jadon is a world-class player, and he's one of the best young talents in the world at the moment," Lingard said.

"At a big club like United there is always going to be pressure. I feel like he's slowly adapting now. And you can see glimpses of that in the previous games that he's played, and now we can see that in training week in week out.

"There's no doubt that he will succeed at United, I've got full confidence in that."

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