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Manchester United star Jesse Lingard inspires cousin Gabby George as Everton defender reveals pep talks and support during ACL injury

Having Jesse Lingard as your cousin will, inevitably, bring a certain degree of pressure from the watching public, but it is something Everton and England defender Gabby George relishes.

“I’m obviously going to have to back myself,” the defender laughs when asked who would win in a competition between her and Lingard.

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Lingard’s cousin is a WSL star But as much as there is a friendly rivalry between the duo, there is also a huge amount of respect, with Lingard going out of his way to help George through her recovery from a serious ACL injury.

George ruptured her ACL against Bristol City last February and had to deal with further mental strain when her surgery was delayed for four months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She returned to action earlier this year, though, and her form was rewarded by Everton in the summer when they handed her a new three-year deal.

Having Lingard by her side during such a tough ordeal is something George is incredibly grateful for and says the Manchester United midfielder is a huge role model to her.

Speaking exclusively to talkSPORT, George said: “Jesse’s been doing really well for himself. He’s worked hard and trained hard and he’s a great idol not just for me, but for a lot of people that have struggled in the past and it shows that you can always come back. He’s a great inspiration for me and for everyone else.

“I speak to him quite a lot and especially when I’m going through tough patches myself. As a footballer, everyone thinks it’s a smooth road. During my ACL, he kept giving me pep talks and pushing me on.

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Lingard has returned from a mini-crisis in recent months “He does try to watch as many games as he can, now it’s on Sky Sports. I think he was in the warm-up room and he had it on Sky Sports watching one of the games. He does try and keep up and watch as many games and I try and watch as many of his games as I can.”

That’s not where the Manchester connection stops, either. George grew up watching United and idolised defensive duo Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic as a youngster.

George wants to be Everton’s very own Rolls Royce in defence – just like Ferdinand and Vidic were for United – and is determined to help the Toffees bounce back from a tough start in the Women’s Super League.

Everton were expected to challenge for a place in the top four this season after bringing in the likes of Toni Duggan and midfielder Hanna Bennison this summer, but currently sit in tenth place in the table after losing four of their first six league games.

That slow start prompted the Toffees to sack Willie Kirk in October, with Frenchman Jean Luc-Vasseur swiftly arriving as his replacement for his first job in English football.

Vasseur has a proven track record in women’s football after winning the Champions League with Lyon and George is confident he is the right man to turn Everton’s fortunes around.

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George also discussed Everton’s season “It’s the first foreign manager I’ve worked under, if I’m right. So, it’s been different,” she finished.

“But I think what he wants and what the club want both match. I think it was the right appointment for the club at the time and hopefully, he can push us on to bigger and better things.

“Everyone knows that he’s a winner. He’s won managerial awards, he’s won the Champions League and he’s won leagues. That speaks volumes itself. He wants to come and implement that here. Once you’re a winner, you’re always a winner.

“We’ve had a lot of changes and a lot of new players. I think everyone is just trying to find their form and learn about new leagues and new players. I think we’ll click soon. [In terms of] our performances, some have been good, parts have been bad. But we’re getting there and building step-by-step. We just need to be patient with ourselves and I think it will come.”

Everton Women take on Manchester United Women at Walton Hall Park on Sunday 14 November at 12:30pm as part of Women’s Football Weekend. Tickets are just £8 for adults and £4 for seniors and junior supporters. Simply visit the ticketing section on evertonfc.com to get your tickets today.

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