Jesse Lingard has been told he has a leading part to play in the Manchester United side this season – but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has suggested he still remains some way from becoming a regular starter at Old Trafford.
The United midfielder finds his name in the column inches on a regular basis these days. Having joined West Ham on loan in January, he impressed hugely, scoring nine times in 16 games as David Moyes’ side secured Europa League qualification.
The Hammers made it clear they wanted to bring Lingard back to the club on a permanent basis. However, despite having just a year left on his contract at Old Trafford, United opted to keep him. To that end, he was given a promise by Solskjaer before the season started.
Now the player has endured something of a rollercoaster week. Having gifted Young Boys an late winner in the Champions League in midweek, Lingard felt obliged to publicly apologise.
However, he very quickly redeemed himself by scoring the crucial winner as they recorded a 2-1 win at West Ham on Sunday.
However, much of the talk was about Lingard after his vital matchwinner.
As a result of his impact, there are plenty who now feel he’s a more worthy starter than Jadon Sancho. The winger has struggled to find his top form since a £73m summer switch from Borussia Dortmund.
However, Solskjaer has suggested that Lingard may still have to be patient.
And, in a strong hint over his current role in their hierarchy, he has promised the player a start in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup third-round clash against the Hammers.
“Jesse was quite clear he wants to fight for his place and be part of a Man United team that is going places,” Solskjaer said.
“I can’t speak for Jesse now but he’s really contributing. He’ll play on Wednesday as I’ll make a few changes.”
United will likely hand outings to several stars struggling for game time against the Hammers. The likes of Juan Mata, Eric Bailly, Dean Henderson and Donny van de Beek can also expect starts.
Sancho problems assessed by Solskjaer
While Lingard made an impact off the bench on Sunday, it’s a different story for Jadon Sancho.
The £73m signing has not been at his best since signing for the club and many feel Lingard could usurp him in the side.
Solskjaer, however, is prepared to bide him time as he readjusts to life in the Premier League.
“I think you’re right, both with Raphael Varane and Cristiano coming in, that takes a little bit of pressure off a young man,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports.
“He’s 21, he’s learning the game. He’s learning how we train, he’s learning how we play, he’s learning the Premier League. But he’s come in hungry to learn.
“We knew his talent. We signed him with the thought that we are going to have a top forward here for the next 10 or 12 years.
“Jadon’s finding his feet. It’s unfortunate that he fell ill just when he was going to come in. And when he was out, he lost a bit of pre-season. But he is working hard and he will be good.”