Jesse Lingard made his 24th appearance for England on Thursday evening putting in a man-of-the-match performance as Gareth Southgate’s men ran out comfortable 5-0 winners over San Marino.
Lingard had waited 655 days to add to his collection of England caps, during which time he had made just nine Premier League starts for Manchester United. Since his move south to the London Stadium, the 28-year-old has started all seven games in which he has been eligible for selection.
In just seven games Lingard’s form has seen him return to Southgate’s plans and force his way back into the England set-up.
Now he has returned to the fold Lingard is determined to stay there saying that selection for the European Champions squad would be the ‘icing on the cake’ to his season. And former West Ham player Trevor Sinclair thinks Lingard deserves a spot in the final 23.
“His fitness could be really key in Gareth’s decision. When you play against international teams, it’s alright everyone getting the ball to feet and playing pretty football, but you’ve got to make a lot of the unselfish, lung-busting runs in behind defences and lines. That’s what breaks and disorganises defences.
“He has that in abundance and Gareth knows that and will think he could be a key player for England,” Sinclair said on talkSPORT.
“He was a breath of fresh air with his performance,” Sinclair said on Friday’s talkSPORT Breakfast.
Sinclair knows what it takes to represent England at a major tournament winning four of his 12 international caps during the 2002 World Cup and he was encouraged with what he saw from Lingard against San Marino.
“He was fresh, he was hungry, the quality he possessed on the evening was superb. He looks hungry and that he’s really enjoying his football. I’ve seen his interview where he said ‘I could have felt sorry for myself and given in’,” said Sinclair.
Lingard’s desire to play regular football saw the midfielder leave the club he has represented for 21 years as man and boy and it is this attitude which has grabbed Sinclair’s attention.
“Again another story where you’ve been to the heights and got to a crossroads, you either roll your sleeves up and have a go or feel sorry for yourself and trip over your lip. He’s gone for the former,” he said.
“He’s been brilliant for West Ham. I wasn’t surprised with that performance. He was getting on little angles, he knows when to have one or two touches, his movement and breaking lines off the ball.”
Despite being overlooked at Manchester United Lingard kept himself in perfect shape and ready to perform whenever called upon. He proved this by slotting straight into the Hammers team with no need for a period of acclimatisation to the pace of the game and his desire to move to West Ham has impressed Sinclair.
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“He could have sat at Manchester United and said ‘I should be playing, I’m fit but the gaffer is not giving me an opportunity’.
“He’s almost taken that decision away from Ole Gunnar Solskajer, gone out on loan, he knows David Moyes and probably had conversations and said ‘I want to play straight from the off, I’m ready, I’m fit and raring to go’,” Sinclair said.
“He’s gone in there, talk about hit the ground running and scored a worldie last weekend as well. He’s come in and taken that confidence, belief and anger – that performance last night, even though he didn’t score, was outstanding.
“He was up there for man of the match. He’s played himself into a position where he’s odds on to go.”