‘His form for England has always been good’ - Southgate explains Lingard selection

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Without a goal or assist in 2019, the midfielder's form has been heavily scrutinised in recent weeks

England manager Gareth Southgate has explained why he selected Jesse Lingard in his latest England squad, despite the Manchester United man enduring a difficult opening to the season.

The midfielder started the Red Devils’ first three games of the campaign, but was replaced after an hour against Crystal Palace last week and then was selected from the bench on Saturday during the 1-1 draw at Southampton.

Lingard, who was heavily criticised for his social media antics in the summer, has not helped endear himself to supporters since then with his on-the-field showings.

In fact, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was forced to defend the 26-year-old in his press conference earlier this week.

The disappointing start to the campaign meant many felt he would be dropped by Southgate for the upcoming England squad, but the Three Lions boss included him and has revealed that his inclusion is due to his previous displays at international level.

“I think you’d have to say I’ve seen him have better spells for United,” Southgate admitted.

“I think Ole has a young, energetic team, and I think Jesse’s pressing and the energy he brings to that has been an important part of what they’ve tried to do in the first few games.

“The inclusion of Jesse for us is partly because his form for us has always been good.

“I know there was stats on his goals. He was only involved in four games for us last season because of injury – two starts and two off the bench.

“He scored two and had a goal disallowed when he came on in the Nations League game. He had a very good World Cup.

“When you’re selecting a team, there’s half an eye on club form but also I don’t remember a game where he’s been really poor for us.

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“He has different attributes. I think for him and for everybody else, there is serious competition and if they aren’t scoring for us or they aren’t scoring for their clubs, that can make things more difficult.

“But, equally, I think it’s good that we support him at this moment, in that you could argue club-wise, he’s on the fringes and whether he should be ahead of others.

“But I don’t think there are too many that we haven’t included that should be ahead of him, and his performance for us has been very, very good,” he added.

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