England manager Gareth Southgate has explained why he chose not to drop Jesse Lingard from the squad despite his struggles at Old Trafford.
Manchester United have only won one of their opening four games of the season and Lingard has failed to impress so far.
Should Lingard be in the England squad? Five key things to know…
- The 26-year-old has yet to score or assist a goal in the 2019/20 Premier League season.
- In fact, he has not scored or assisted a league goal at all this calendar year.
- Yet Southgate called him up to England’s squad ahead of Euros 2020 qualifiers vs Montenegro and Kosovo.
- The Three Lions boss says Lingard “has always been good” for his national side.
- The attacking midfielder scored four times for England in 2018.
There were a few surprises in Gareth Southgate’s England squad selection ahead of their Euro 2020 qualifying games against Bulgaria and Kosovo.
Kyle Walker was left out while Jesse Lingard kept his place, even though he has not played well for United this season. Former Three Lions boss Sam Allardyce, appearing on Talksport, believes the player will have already have been warned he could lose his starter status at Old Trafford.
Southgate defended Lingard’s inclusion in the squad with the manager suggesting his performances for the Three Lions was a big part of his thinking.
“I think you’d have to say I’ve seen him have better spells for United,” Southgate said.
“I think Ole has a young, energetic team, and I think Jesse’s pressing and the energy he brings to that has been an important part of what they’ve tried to do in the first few games.
“The inclusion of Jesse for us is partly because his form for us has always been good.
“I know there was stats on his goals. He was only involved in four games for us last season because of injury – two starts and two off the bench.”
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“He scored two and had a goal disallowed when he came on in the Nations League game. He had a very good World Cup.
“When you’re selecting a team, there’s half an eye on club form but also I don’t remember a game where he’s been really poor for us.
“He has different attributes. I think for him and for everybody else, there is serious competition and if they aren’t scoring for us or they aren’t scoring for their clubs, that can make things more difficult.
“But, equally, I think it’s good that we support him at this moment, in that you could argue club-wise, he’s on the fringes and whether he should be ahead of others.
“But I don’t think there are too many that we haven’t included that should be ahead of him, and his performance for us has been very, very good.”
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Southgate has some real competition for places in his England squad, with Walker’s exclusion just highlighting the fact.
The England manager believes having depth is a massive plus point and gives him an advantage over previous Three Lions managers.
Southgate added: “One of the downfalls, I think, when I was a player was that we’d lose a key player and it’d be a disaster and there was no replacement and [there’d be] huge negativity.
“I think the good thing is, if we lost… there are some players you’d rather not lose, but I think we could adapt to anything and that’s really important.”