Gareth Southgate has backed Jesse Lingard to keep upsetting the order at Manchester United, and revealed his surprise the winger has not been tempted to move away.
England Under-21 manager Southgate expects the 22-year-old to nail down his spot after making the breakthrough at Old Trafford.
Academy product Lingard scored his first goal in Saturday’s 2-0 win over West Brom and seven of his eight appearances for the club have come in the last month.
The winger has kept £25million summer signing Memphis Depay on the bench, and having watched him compete at the last European Under-21 Championships, Southgate is left wondering how Lingard has not been subject to more offers from different pastures.
“I’m amazed they weren’t inundated with more bids to prise him away in the summer, especially having played as well as he did in the Europeans,” he said.
Lingard, now too old for Southgate’s England side after being in last year’s squad, was loaned out to Leicester, Brighton, Derby and Birmingham in recent seasons and made his United debut against Swansea in August 2014.
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While United manager Louis van Gaal’s side have been criticised for lacking attacking flair in recent months, Southgate reckons Lingard can help.
“We are not surprised because we have liked him from the off,” said Southgate, who is preparing for the Under-21s’ Euro 2017 qualifiers against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Switzerland.
“Physically he has been a late developer and we think there is still some physical growth to come but he’s an intelligent footballer and he will carry out the role he’s asked to do, which I think the manager there will quite like,” Southgate added.
“He is at a club where you know you have to perform every week but over the years that’s how the youngsters there have been raised.
“They know they’re going to have to perform in front of 70,000 people and that brings expectations and he’s got the shirt at the moment and knowing him he’ll do whatever it takes to hold onto it.
“People at the club, for a long time, stuck with him at a time where he was a small one.”
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