Lingard's streak continues with 1st England call-up

Jesse Lingard, 22, is the latest young player to be tapped by manager Roy Hodgson to shine for England.
Jesse Lingard, 22, is the latest young player to be tapped by manager Roy Hodgson to shine for England.

LONDON - If there were England players who felt a sense of unease ahead of a match that has lost much of its significance in a sporting context, then it is safe to assume that Jesse Lingard was not among them.

Nine days after Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal said it would be too early, the 22-year-old was called into Roy Hodgson's squad for the first time ahead of today's friendly against France.

The call-up continues a remarkable few weeks for the winger who has unexpectedly broken into the United team ahead of Memphis Depay and Ashley Young.

Since Lingard has played only 193 minutes of football in the Premier League, his elevation is sure to add to the debate about England's selection policy under Hodgson and previous managers.

Even van Gaal said last week that it was "much too early" for the youngster to be called up to Hodgson's squad.

But, in recent years, Calum Chambers, 20; Phil Jones, 23; Chris Smalling, 25; Tom Cleverley, 26; Dele Alli, 19; Raheem Sterling, 20; and Danny Ings, 23, have seen England senior recognition follow only a handful of first-team appearances for a high-profile club.

Van Gaal, in the midst of an injury crisis, handed Lingard a Premier League debut in his first match in charge of United, against Swansea in August last year.

But it is only in recent weeks, after a spell on loan to Derby County towards the end of last season, that the winger has returned to the first-team picture at Old Trafford.

He set up the winner for Wayne Rooney against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League and scored the opening goal against West Bromwich 10 days ago.

It remains to be seen whether Lingard will be handed his debut at Wembley Stadium today but Hodgson is eager to look at some of the other younger players.

John Stones, the 21-year-old Everton defender, will start alongside Gary Cahill in a back four that is also expected to include Nathaniel Clyne, 24, and Kieran Gibbs, 26.

What was previously billed as a key part of both teams' preparations for the Euro 2016 Finals next June is now regarded as an opportunity to express solidarity after the Paris terror attacks.

It is understood, however, that some France players are unhappy that the friendly will go ahead.

They are believed to have privately described the decision as "disrespectful" while there is considerable resentment that they have been barely able to see their families since the tragedy.

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2015, with the headline 'Lingard's streak continues with 1st England call-up'. Print Edition | Subscribe