Gary Neville says Jesse Lingard could still have a role to play at Manchester United, provided he does not expect to feature every week.
Lingard has been a revelation since joining West Ham on loan in January, with the attacking midfielder scoring once more and setting another up in the Hammers’ 3-2 win over Wolves on Monday evening.
The Hammers are keen to sign Lingard permanently but Neville believes the player could still have a future at Old Trafford.
Speaking on Sky Sports, Neville said that Lingard could be an important squad player for United going forward but, if he is looking for regular first-team football, he may have to leave in the summer.
“He does an incredible amount of running,” Neville said. “It’s what he does. He’s good out of possession and good in possession.
“At Manchester United. because there is that expectation of what you need to be, to be a wide player there, he’s always going to get a difficult press.
“But if he was playing in a world-class team, if he was, say, Ji-Sung Park 10 years ago playing with Ronaldo and Rooney, doing that supplementary role, then people would be saying he’s perfect for this squad.
“The problem is he was not playing in Manchester United teams as good as that, so he gets a bit of stick.
“He’s a really good player. He’s going to have a great career. Manchester United have sent him out to West Ham to boost his career, maybe with the thought of boosting his price tag, but they might be thinking, ‘actually, we might want him back, he could be a real help to us’.
“If Jesse wants to play, and you can see he does want to play, then he needs to leave, because he’s not going to play every single week for a Manchester United team that’s competing for second or first place in the league.
“But if he’s willing to go back there and compete and be the player that Dan James has been for the last few weeks, in and out, then there’s no doubt he can play for Manchester United.”
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Speaking about his own form after netting his sixth goal in eight games for West Ham, Lingard said it was down to being able to play regular football.
He said: “It’s consistency, I think. Form is consistent for me.
“I’ve obviously not played for the past two years so to be playing week in, week out and keeping my form is great.
“The team have helped me tremendously.”