Jesse Lingard has revealed he took the advice of England manager Gareth Southgate who recommended he stay in the Premier League and fight for his place at the European Championship finals.
The Manchester United forward left the club to join West Ham on loan in January having made just two starts for the Red Devils this season.
Lingard has been in scintillating form since his temporary switch to east London, scoring five goals and claiming two assists in just seven Premier League appearances.
That was enough to earn the 28-year-old his first England call-up since September 2019, with Southgate admitting a number of injuries to other attacking options had hastened Lingard’s return.
Lingard was one of the key components of Southgate’s side who reached the World Cup semi-finals in Russia three years ago and told of how conversations with the Three Lions boss led him to join the Hammers.
‘He’s shown a lot of support and a lot of belief in me,’ Lingard told talkSPORT when asked about his relationship with Southgate.
‘He was the first one to give me my England debut, which I’m proud of and I still kept in contact with him, even though I wasn’t playing just to get his advice on what I should do.
‘We carried on speaking and then the loan happened, so I didn’t speak to him after the loan. It was just about me working hard for West Ham and trying to get the call-up.
‘I’d been two years out and hadn’t played a lot of football so it was in my head that I might go or might not go, but I’m glad I’m here now and that he showed that belief in me.’
Asked what advice Southgate had offered, Lingard replied: ‘It was just on the right move, really.
‘Whether it was about going out to Europe or staying in the Premier League and he said, “If I were you I would stay in the Premier League”.
‘So after that I had to find a Premier League side and obviously West Ham fit perfectly.’
Lingard went on to give the other options he had for a loan switch in January, telling BBC Radio 5Live: ‘A couple of teams in Spain, France and then, obviously, like I say, I had the conversation with Gareth and he was saying, “If I were you, I’d stay in the Premier League”.’
The likes of James Maddison, Harvey Barnes, Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish are all missing from the squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifying triple-header against San Marino, Albania and Poland.
With so many options ruled out through injury, Southgate said Lingard was ‘particularly fortunate’ to be recalled.
‘I can understand where he is coming from with that, I totally understand it,’ added Lingard.
‘Most of the lads have been playing full seasons and every game for the club since the start of the season.
‘So, I can understand where he comes from on that side but I just wanted to go out and play regular football and try and do the best I can and obviously the stats speak for themselves and all I can do is keep scoring goals, assist in helping a team, and when England came knocking it was a brilliant opportunity.
‘It’s a great opportunity. Obviously we’re thinking about the Euros but we’ve got three games now to go and get nine points out of, which is really possible.
‘We believe in ourselves and we’ll stay confident in all three of those games.’
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