THE forgotten man of Manchester United will make a rare appearance in the squad for the trip to Goodison Park.
On the bench, most likely, but all the same it is a step forward for a player who used to be one of the first names on the team sheet.
Injury, personal issues, and now Covid isolations have brought Jesse Lingard’s career to a standstill.
But did his eye not come off the ball too and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spotted it?
Still a rare appearance is promised when United take on Everton in the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup.
Manager Solskjaer said: “Jesse will be in the squad, yeah. He's been working hard in training. He's been unfortunate with having to isolate a few times, been in contact, or close contact with Covid, not even having it himself.
“He's been very unlucky being away from the training ground a few times. He works really hard and he'll be involved in the squad, definitely.”
Lingard’s career once had him as a regular Three Lion now he is barely a Red Devil.
He started five of England’s six World Cup games on their way to the semi-finals in 2018.
His 24th cap against Switzerland in June 2019 looks like it will be his last.
Now the best is a place in an EFL squad, once reserved for youth team players coming through, not previously established stars.
The most unfashionable of England’s three domestic competitions has given Lingard his only two appearances this season.
A full 90 minutes in the 3-0 away win at Luton and nine minutes at the end of a 3-0 win at Brighton.
At 28-years-old with 209 appearances for United he should be in his prime.
Instead the headlines for scoring the winner in the 2016 FA Cup final and finding the net in the 2017 EFL Cup Final have been replaced with the suggestion of a loan move to rock-bottom Sheffield United.
So where has it gone wrong?
That video of high jinks in Miami littered with bad language in June 2019 cannot have helped.
If you are doing it on the pitch fine, if not… it doesn’t look so good.
Instead he failed to score or make an assist in the whole of 2019.
Solskjaer’s patience undoubtedly snapped in an incident in January this year.
United were 1-0 up at the Etihad trying to recover a 3-1 deficit from the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final against Manchester City.
In the 58th minute his loose pass set Raheem Sterling through with a chance to finish the tie.
He should have scored, he didn’t but the damage for Lingard was done.
He had already given the ball away a number of times that night.
Solskjaer bellowed from the technical area: ‘Jesse. One more time and you’re f****** off.'
And seven minutes later he was. While Solskjaer put an arm around him it is unclear what Lingard’s response was as he walked to the bench.
There looked to be redemption in the air when on the final day of last season he scored the second in a crucial 2-0 away win at Leicester that sealed a Champions League spot.
But that proved to be the blip in his downward trajectory.
He remains a very popular figure in the United camp but sadly for Lingard it is clear he is no longer part of Solskjaer’s plans going forward.
The immediate one is to win a first trophy under his reign which, passed the two year mark last week.
Last season he got the team to three semi-finals but now it is time for the next step and then the walk up the steps as winners at Wembley.
He said: “We want to improve every season and to improve on last year is to get to the final and, of course, when you get to the final there's only one thing that matters and that's to lift the trophy. I remember myself winning my first trophy.
“Even towards the end of my career, I think it was Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic's first trophy in the Carling Cup, 2006.
“I think that was their first trophy and it does give something to a team.
“We are desperate to get our hands on a trophy, these players are desperate to learn how to win.”
Lingard learnt how to win in that 2016 FA Cup final and 2017 EFL Cup final scoring in both. He came on as a sub in the victory over Ajax in the 2017 Europa League final too.
Now he is learning how quickly things can change in football.
Yes he is in the squad for a quarter-final of the EFL Cup, and right now that is as good as it gets.
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