Jesse Lingard has been on an upward trajectory over the last two or three seasons and he is now emerging as a key player for club and country. It was difficult for the attacker to break through at Manchester United. A number of loan spells were required, but he remained patient and he is now an important member of the first-team squad. Jose Mourinho has faith in the 25-year-old, who has featured in eight of the 12 Premier League matches this season.
However, it was during the recent international break that Lingard showed his maturity with two differing performances for England. On Thursday, the Manchester United player scored an incredible goal against USA in a friendly match. He was arguably the most impressive attacking player on show, with four shots, one key pass and two tackles during the game. Although it wasn’t a competitive fixture, it was a big opportunity for players to impress and the dynamic forward took his chance.
Gareth Southgate decided to name Lingard on the bench for the crucial Nations’ League contest with Croatia. The quick attacker may not have been a part of the starting eleven, but he was the name many were talking about at the final whistle. England were trailing with 20 minutes to go and facing relegation. Lingard was called into action and had a huge part to play in the turnaround. His positional awareness and aggressive movement allowed him to get on the end of a Harry Kane shot to get the equaliser.
His main contribution in attack was that goal, but he continued to work hard and proved his worth at the other end of the pitch. Croatia were pushing for a winner and Lingard made an excellent clearance off the line to keep the scores level. At that stage of the game, it was as big as a goal. In the current England squad, there is a great team spirit and every player is willing to do anything required for the good of the team. This game-saving piece of defending from Lingard shows that.
The international break came at a good time for Lingard, as he hasn’t been at his best for Manchester United this season. It has been a difficult start to the season for all at Old Trafford and the environment means that it is difficult for players to perform. Playing for England seems to bring out the best in the 25-year-old, but he must show that form for his club team.
Before the break, Lingard had been starting games for Manchester United and he will be hoping that his form for England will allow him to keep that role. He is a perfect player for Jose Mourinho, as he is willing to work hard for the team. If he can keep his place and get one or two goals over the coming weeks, it could be another season of progression for the 25-year-old.