Jesse Lingard: West Ham move has given me a new lease of life
Jesse Lingard says his loan move to West Ham United has given him ‘a new lease of life’ ahead of his potential return to England duty on Thursday evening.
The No11 hailed the role his switch to the Hammers has played in helping him earn a recall to the England squad for the Three Lions’ opening 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
The midfielder had featured just three times for Manchester United in the opening half of the 2020/21 season and his hopes of adding to his 24 caps, the last of which he won at the 2019 UEFA Nations League finals, appeared to have gone cold.
But, following discussions with England manager Gareth Southgate, Lingard joined the Hammers on loan at the end of January and, after scoring five goals and assisting three more in just seven Premier League appearances in Claret and Blue, was rewarded with his inclusion in the squad for the Group I fixtures with San Marino, Albania and Poland.
Speaking to the FA ahead of Thursday’s meeting with San Marino at Wembley, Lingard spoke positively about how his move to London Stadium transformed his chances of returning to international action.
The staff have been great and the whole Club, the whole set-up is really good. I'm playing week, in week out and I'm doing something that I love so, for me, it's been perfect
“One hundred per cent, it’s a bit like a new lease of life,” he enthused. “I’ve moved to London, which is different, different group of lads – all the lads are brilliant at West Ham, they've welcomed me with open arms.
“The staff have been great and the whole Club, the whole set-up is really good. I'm playing week in, week out, and I'm doing something that I love so, for me, it's been perfect. Like you say, it's a new lease of life.
"I think [getting back in the England squad] was always in my mind. I love playing for my country. I've already missed half a season and had to really start very quickly with West Ham and do the best I could to try and get in there.
"It's just about believing and doing well for West Ham – scoring, assisting, winning games – and I think obviously you know that's what warranted me a place here, just being on form.
“When I went on loan to West Ham I had a lot of targets written down. Certain ones I've hit already and I will continue that for the rest of the season so it's just about having the right mindset and right focus – coming to West Ham and trying to help out the team, trying to fight for Europe, and I also have individual targets as well.”
Lingard also revealed that Southgate had played a part in him opting to join West Ham on loan ahead of the host of European clubs who were also keen to secure his services.
“Gareth has shown a lot of support and a lot of belief in me,” he confirmed. “He was the manager to give me my England debut, which I'm proud of. I still kept in contact with him, even though I wasn't playing, just to get his advice on what I should do.
“[Discussing the potential loan] it was just on the right move, really. Whether it was about going out to Europe or staying in the Premier League, 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.
“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 just wanted to go out and play regular football and try and do the best I could. Obviously the stats speak for themselves, and all I can do is keep scoring goals, assisting, helping the team, and so when England came knocking it was a brilliant opportunity.”
And, having hit the ground running in Claret and Blue, Lingard is now hoping to do likewise on his return to the England squad.
“I mean I'm full of confidence at the moment. The performances I've been giving for West Ham, hopefully I can bring them [to England],” he confirmed.
“But I have got to stay confident and still believe in myself to do the best I can to help the team.”