Jesse Lingard sets himself Man Utd goal in bid to get into England’s World Cup fold
Lingard thrilled to have Ronaldo back at Man Utd
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Jesse Lingard believes he needs to be playing at least 20 club games a season if he is to get himself an invite to Gareth Southgate’s World Cup party. The Manchester United forward has refused to sign a new contract offer at Old Trafford, made after his hugely successful loan spell under David Moyes at West Ham.
And he maintained returning to bench-warming duties at United was not an option if he is to avoid missing out on a major finals for the second time running.
Lingard, 28, forced his way from the shadows to the fringes of Southgate’s Euros squad this summer off the back of a superb spell at the London Stadium which delivered nine goals and five assists in just 16 games.
Yet he believes it was a lack of regular football that cost him when the final cut was made, a fate he does not want to suffer when it comes round to Qatar next winter.
“Obviously, the World Cup is a long way away but it is clear from last year, you need regular football,” he said. “I was so close to going to the Euros so, and I think it plays a huge part and it’s a big factor.
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“You know if you’re playing over 20, 25 games, of course you know you’re knocking on the door so I think it does play a big part in that.”
Lingard has made five appearances off the bench for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this season, scoring twice and settting up Cristiano Ronaldo for a dramatic late winner against Villareal in the Champions League.
But the arrival of the Portugal international and Jadon Sancho as well as the return to fitness of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial provides stiff competition for any first team action.
“I’m not doing any harm at the moment and if I keep doing well you never know what might happen so I keep confident in myself and when I get when I get time on the pitch I’ve got to carry on doing what I’m doing,” he said.
“But you want to start games. When I’m sub I’m always ready to play. I’m always ready. It’s one of those things I’m going through at the moment though.
“On recent performances hopefully we’ll see a change in the next few weeks.”
Both Solksjaer and Southgate can benefit from the fact Lingard’s self-confidence, his belief he can force his way back into regular first team action, is high.
After his double against Andorra in the 4-0 win at Wembley last month, tomorrow’s return in the Pyreneean state offers Lingard the chance to remind everyone of his continued value five years on from his debut in October 2016.
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