Jesse Lingard hard at work in training ahead of France fixture

by Leo Nieboer

Jesse Lingard has been videoed putting in the hard yards at St George’s ahead of England’s friendly with France on Tuesday night.

The 24-year-old, who has kept his place in the England side ever since Gareth Southgate took charge back in October, was an unused substitute for England’s 2-2 draw with Scotland last weekend.

Lingard has maintained an upward trajectory under Jose Mourinho following a promising debut campaign with Louis van Gaal, making 42 appearances and receiving a new contract worth £100,000 a week in April.

He was seen producing some neat touches – and even finishes! – against Fraser Forster in preparation for the clash with Didier Deschamps’ men.

Lingard can often come across as something of a paradox: he is probably best known for his deadliness in front of goal at Wembley yet struggles with his finishing more than anything else; his demeanour is often eccentric, and sometimes cheeky, but he will, without fail, commit himself in militant, almost joyless fashion on the pitch.

There is nothing new in this, of course. Contradiction is encoded in all of us. But perhaps Lingard can use it to his advantage under Southgate – somebody who, by managing England, also gives off a feeling of contradiction. The managerial hot-seat in this country, after all, seemingly rests on a cult of particular individuals, whether it surrounds the manager or a certain player: McLaren’s Wally in a Brolly moment, for example, as well as the painful Why Can’t Lampard Play With Gerrard? query. These narratives are endless.

But Southgate and Lingard, when it comes to their work, lean in the opposite direction: in practice, the emphasis clearly rests on moving forward in a collective fashion, developing with not just each win but with every loss as well. They are both, beneath the surface, honest workers. Perhaps a fruitful relationship could blossom down the years.

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