Manchester United Goal-hero Jesse Lingard not ready for England yet: Louis Van Gaal
Manchester United 2 - West Brom 0
Louis van Gaal has warned Roy Hodgson that despite Jesse Lingard's breakthrough at Manchester United the 22-year-old is not ready to be called up by England.
Having joined United as a seven-year-old and served under three managers at Old Trafford before making his debut this season, Lingard has been dramatically rewarded for his patience.
He struck the post in the Manchester derby, provided Wayne Rooney's winner against CSKA Moscow last Tuesday night and on Saturday his curling, flighted drive was the decisive moment in a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion. Van Gaal, however, believes Lingard still needs time to develop away from the international game.
"I would say that it is much too early for England," said the United manager. "We will have to wait and see if he is consistent in his form but I am very happy with his contribution until now."
At 22, Lingard is not young by current England standards: he is the same age as Harry Kane and three years older than Dele Alli. He played for Manchester United in the FA Youth Cup final in 2011, in the same line-up as Paul Pogba, now at the very heart of Juventus.
Part of his trouble was that Sir Alex Ferguson's interest in young footballers had begun to wane in his final season when he could see the finish line beckoning. His successor David Moyes' position was never secure enough for him to put his trust in youth.
Van Gaal is different. It was the Ajax class of '94 that won him his European Cup.
Before facing West Bromwich, he had informed United's youth team managers, Paul McGuinness and Warren Joyce, that he wanted the 18-year-old Cameron Borthwick-Jackson on the bench because he did not trust Marcos Rojo to play a run of games at left-back.
"That is why I don't want a big squad because it doesn't give a chance to young players," Van Gaal said. "That is why I have sold a lot of players and have others out on loan. It means we have only a squad of 21 outfield players and three goalkeepers. So when there are injuries or illnesses, I have to look at my allocation with my youth coaches."
Lingard had been out on loan to Leicester City, Birmingham City, Brighton and Derby County but when, after United's tour of America, he asked if he would be loaned out again, Van Gaal informed him that he would be staying at Old Trafford.
Lingard had been on few tours, impressed here and there, but never kicked on.
Van Gaal had chosen him for his first game as Manchester United manager but he had promptly broken down with injury.
Now he was standing by the dressing-room door, explaining how it felt finally to have scored for the club he grew up in Warrington supporting. "I have been here since I was seven, I am probably the longest-serving player here," he smiled.
"My family were here as well. To come through the ranks and play for your boyhood club is a dream come true."