Jesse Lingard is the “most improved player” this season and the Manchester United player should be in England’s World Cup squad, says Steve McClaren.
The England international continued his rich vein of form with a seventh Premier League goal of the campaign in Manchester United’s 2-0 victory over Everton at Goodison Park on New Year’s Day.
Lingard, despite fierce competition for a starting role in Jose Mourinho’s starting line-up, has emerged from United’s depth of attacking options as a consistent performer and McClaren, who managed the player during his loan spell at Derby in 2015, has spoken in glowing terms of the midfielder.
“Most definitely,” McClaren told Premier League Daily, when asked whether Lingard should be in Gareth Southgate’s squad next summer.
“Wow is he making strides and improving. When I was at Derby we took him on loan and he had just had an injury. He came to us to get his fitness back and games.
“You could see the potential and wow he is fulfilling that now and he is different. He is unique. He is forward-running with and without the ball. “He is such a threat and he is probably a quicker runner with the ball than without the ball. He beats players, can score, is composed and can assist.
“His sheer enthusiasm, not just work on the ball in creating but off the ball defending (is impressive). For me this season he is the most improved player I have seen.” Raheem Sterling is another England international who has made strides this season, under the tutelage of Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, and the former England manager believes Mourinho and the Manchester United staff deserve their fair share of credit for Lingard’s performances.
“I think you have to give credit to all the coaches and managers at these clubs for developing the players and making them the superstars they are,” said McClaren. “Guardiola is a perfect example also with Raheem Sterling. He has adapted his game. There was always a question mark with Lingard and Sterling about end product – do they score and do they assist?
“What they have got into their game, the pair of them, is end product They are not just good and beat players but there is end product – there is a cross, shot or goal.”