Lingard Middlesbrough absence remains a mystery as Rangnick claims he wanted Man Utd outcast in squad for FA Cup loss

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Ralf Rangnick has added to the uncertainty regarding Jesse Lingard's availability to face Middlesbrough, insisting that he would have "loved" to have had the midfielder in his squad for the FA Cup defeat.

Lingard had insisted that he was advised by the club to take time off, which contradicted his manager's initial suggestion that the player had requested an extended break after failing to secure a January exit from Old Trafford.

Indeed, the England international was absent from the squad for the penalty shoot-out loss to the Championship side, with Rangnick claiming afterwards it did not make sense for him to sanction extra time off for Lingard.

What did Rangnick say about Lingard after FA Cup defeat?

Rangnick told reporters: "With Jesse, I told you what my information was and my knowledge was, and of course, I would have loved to have had Jesse in the squad.

"We were one outfield player less on the teamsheet today, so why would I have allowed him to have four or five days off?

"I would have loved to have had him in the squad but it was not the case and therefore, it doesn't make sense to speak about players who were not available."

Rangnick originally claimed Lingard asked for time off

Speaking to reporters ahead of the FA Cup fourth-round clash, United's interim manager claimed that Lingard had been granted additional time off.

He told reporters: "He (Lingard) asked me and the club if we could give him a couple of days off just to clear up his mind.

"He will be back in the group, I suppose, next Monday, back for training and then be a regular part of the whole squad again."

Lingard denies he asked for time off

Lingard then came out to dismiss Rangnick's comments via social media, insisting his omission from the Middlesbrough game has nothing to do with his mindset.

"The club advised me to have time off due to personal reasons!" the midfielder wrote on Twitter.

"But my headspace is clear and I’ll always be professional when called upon and give 100 per cent."

Where does Lingard go from here?

It was reported that Lingard was the subject of interest from both Newcastle and West Ham in January, the latter of whom he played for on loan in the second half of the 2021-22 campaign.

He could have seen more regular minutes at either of those clubs to put himself in the shop window before becoming a free agent in the summer, but is now going to have to fight to get back into United's first-team plans.

It would appear likely that Lingard will now leave on a free transfer, and it remains to be see how much he will be used by Rangnick in the latter stages of the 2021-22 campaign, especially given the duo's contradictory comments about each other regarding the Middlesbrough game.

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