Lingard’s meteoric rise back to the top of the game since joining West Ham on loan in January has been incredible. 6 goals and 3 assists in 8 games are ridiculous numbers for any player, let alone someone who has hardly featured over the past 2 seasons. Gareth Bale was in a similar boat when he re-joined Tottenham in the summer, but it took him until last month to begin to look like the Bale we knew before. It took Lingard just one game to get himself on the scoresheet and he’s only improved from there. His goal to open the scoring against Wolves on Monday was just delightful; driving with the ball from inside his own half, supported by an outstanding decoy run from Michail Antonio and finishing past Rui Patricio. It was a statement goal. He really has put his name in the hat for the England squad this summer.
Football fans have short memories. When Gareth Bale won Player of the Season in the 2010/11 season he only scored 12 goals, with none coming after Tottenham’s New Years Day victory over Fulham. Everybody remembered the incredible form he had showed in the early months and overlooked how average he was in the back end of the season. With his current form, Lingard is on course to finish the season with a higher productivity rate than the Welshman did in 2010/11 and the “JLingz” hype-train will really be rolling. They are quite easy players to compare. Both are often in the media, both have been inconsistent throughout their careers and both have always played well for their national team. Don’t get me wrong, 8 games isn’t enough to get any player straight in to the England squad, but if Lingard does manage to maintain this current level, it’s going to be very difficult to overlook him.
If Southgate were to pick the West Ham loanee, James Maddison would probably be the player to miss out (although many would argue he won’t be going anyway). I have seen a lot of people suggesting Sancho or Grealish be dropped, which is quite frankly ridiculous. The Aston Villa captain is an incredible talent and despite his recent injury will almost certainly be in the squad. Jadon Sancho is a strange one and this opinion to drop him most likely stems from the fact that he doesn’t have the Premier League bias that others profit from. He has 15 goal involvements in 21 Bundesliga games this season and only 3 players have featured more times for England since 2018.
I went on a slight tangent there, but the point I am trying to make is that although Lingard has been in incredible form and although he is clearly a highly talented player, he may have hit form a few months too late. Familiarity is important at international level, with consistency being key and a big reason international managers don’t experiment nearly as much as fans would like. I wouldn’t be adverse to Lingard being in the England squad, but with the amount of competition for places, some very good players are undoubtedly going to miss out and I would imagine that many of those players will be those that haven’t featured for England and worked directly with Gareth Southgate in the past year or so.