Uncapped Manchester United winger Jesse Lingard has been added to the England squad for Tuesday’s friendly against France at Wembley after the injury withdrawals of Jamie Vardy and Michael Carrick.
The 22-year-old has recently been given a first-team chance by Louis van Gaal and has impressed, opening his Red Devils account with this precise curler in the 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion.
But one goal and two Premier League starts – three more in cup competitions – shows how little a player needs to do nowadays to earn Three Lions recognition, especially if they ply their trade at a top club.
It could be argued that Lingard has been prematurely and unfairly picked ahead of wide men who have already proven their worth to Roy Hodgson, or who have enjoyed more prolonged periods of good form.
Andros Townsend was left out of the squad for Friday’s 2-0 defeat to Spain because of a lack of action for Tottenham Hotspur, as the Daily Mail reports, but has scored crucial goals in his 10 England caps.
And Crystal Palace’s Jason Puncheon, Leicester City’s Mark Albrighton and Norwich City’s Nathan Redmond may all feel harshly overlooked in favour of the rookie after excellent starts to the season.
Redmond has a case to feel particularly aggrieved. He has scored four goals for struggling Norwich this term, and has been ahead of Lingard (11 caps) in the England Under-21s pecking order for several years.
With injured Arsenal duo Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to come back into the fold, France’s visit to Wembley may be the only chance that Lingard gets to impress before Euro 2016.
Whether he even deserves that one opportunity or not is up for debate.
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