West Ham fans will have been largely delighted to see Jesse Lingard recalled by Gareth Southgate to the England men’s national team – but less so with some of his comments on the on-loan playmaker.
The English tactician offered recalls to John Stones and Luke Shaw of Manchester City and United alongside Lingard respectively, but was less than overwhelmingly positive on the reasoning behind Lingard’s inclusion.
In what was something of a back-handed compliment, Southgate claimed Lingard was ‘fortunate’ to be back with the Three Lions following a string of injuries to other playmakers [via Claret & Hugh].
Explaining Southgate’s thinking behind the recalls – though he did nonetheless take time to praise Lingard’s attributes, believing he has plenty to offer:
“There has never been any question in our mind about the quality of all three players. All have had difficult times really, mainly due to injury.
“Jesse, of the three, you would have to say is a little more fortunate to be in. Luke and John have performed over a period of time.”
“We have got injuries in attacking areas that have opened up an opportunity for Jesse but I have to say his performances for West Ham have been excellent, his four goals in six games.”
Despite a slightly less-than-magnanimous quip about fortune, Southgate redemptively did make time to explicitly praise Lingard’s quality – and that should not be discounted.
There is a familiarity and a trust retained by Southgate in Lingard that should go a long way in enabling him to garner a few more caps over the World Cup Qualifiers during the international break.