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Gareth Southgate has told Jesse Lingard he will have more chance of continuing to be involved with England if he is playing regularly.
Lingard has been included in the Three Lions squad for World Cup qualifiers with Hungary, Andorra and Poland during the September international break despite playing only four minutes in Manchester United’s first two Premier League games of the season.
The 28-year-old missed the opening game of the season with Covid but he returned to the bench at Southampton on Sunday. While Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said Lingard remains part of his plans, West Ham United could yet rest his resolve to keep the academy graduate with a bid before Tuesday’s transfer deadline.
Lingard shone on loan at the Hammers in the second half of last season and they’ve been interested in making that move permanent during the summer transfer window.
Southgate said Lingard would have a better chance of remaining in the squad if he was playing regularly, whether that is with United or West Ham.
“There’s always what’s ideal and what’s ideal is players at the highest possible level as regularly as they can,” said Southgate.
“There are so many nuances to that, we sometimes get criticised for not being consistent but sometimes that depends from position to position on who’s available, on individual circumstances. With players who we know that are capable of and they’re capable of playing at the level that’s important.
“Of course you’ve got a better chance the higher the level you’re playing at regularly and you’ve got a better chance if you’re playing more regularly than not but nobody can really predict how those seasons are going to play out.
“If you’re Manchester United you’ve got an asset in Jesse that they’re going to want to have involved in their squad at this moment in time. It was great from our point of view that he had a fantastic second half of last season at West Ham that really revitalised him and was why he was so close to being in our final squad in the summer.”
Lingard’s inclusion in this squad has raised eyebrows given his lack of match action this season, but he was in the 33-man provisional squad for the European Championship and his familiarity with the England set-up has counted in his favour.
“He was in the long list before the summer and very close to the squad we named. He has had matches in pre-season, he’s missed the start of the season with Covid but he’s a player for these games who knows who we play, can fit in the team play 7, 11, 8, 10,” said Southgate.
“Although we’re normally looking at somebody new, with Jesse, the way he was with us in the summer, we know the level he’s capable of, he’s got a good record with us internationally and he can fit straight in.
“We go to Budapest with two or three days training so the way the group can adapt quickly is really important to us.”
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