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Scoring big goals in big games keep Lingard happy

NATIONAL SERVICE: Lingard (left) in action for his country

GEMMA THOMPSON of the Football Association (FA) speaks with Jesse Lingard.

FA:Gareth Southgate was quick to praise your debut against Malta. Were you happy with your first appearance?

JL:I thought I started pretty well and getting 90 minutes in the tank felt good. It’s amazing to represent your country at all ages, but to do it at senior level is a great feeling and it was a proud moment for my family, especially as it was at Wembley, and we won. I’ve had to work hard for it and I need to keep it up.

FA:What did the manager say to you before that first game?

JL:He actually gave me my shirt in the team meeting before the game and congratulated me on my debut.
It was a nice gesture and it was good for getting my confidence up. I’ve known him from the Under-21s, so I was already comfortable with him and he knew what I could do. I just wanted to get out there and show him that again.

FA:How did it feel returning to the scene of your Emirates FA Cup and FA Community Shield goals for the first time?

JL:I thought of both, it’s pretty much like a second home now! [Laughs] I’ve done well there but it’s about keeping that consistency going now. A lot has been written about what it’s like to play for England in recent years and months, but how did you find the experience? I think we clicked well and gelled well as a group. You could see that in the first game. I hadn’t played with a lot of the players before so you have to adapt quickly, which we did, and everyone worked hard for each other. The Slovenia game was a bit more intense, but I think we played better in the second half.

FA:Having played for him before, were you pleased when Gareth took the England job on an interim basis?

JL:Yes, of course. I was doing all I could to try to put my name forward [for England] and obviously it was a bonus that Gareth got the job. I remember waiting on the Sunday night watching the TV to see if I was in the squad and it was a great feeling when I was. He’s a chilled guy but on the pitch he demands what he wants from his players.

FA:Your first England experience was with the U17s. What do you remember about those first few games?

JL:I was about 3’2” and everyone else was about 6’0” by then! [Laughs] I’ve got a picture at home where my shirt is down to my knees! Even then it’s still a great experience to be in and around an England team. United’s form has been up and down this season.

FA:How would you assess the team’s progress?

JL:We’re working well together and overall we’ve been playing well. The Chelsea game in the league was a blow but we bounced back with the [EFL Cup] win over [Manchester] City, which was massive. We just need consistency.

FA:What targets have you set yourself for the rest of the season?

JL:For my club I want to concentrate on getting more goals and assists. For my country I want to keep playing regularly because it’s given me confidence. I played the last two England games and I want to carry that on. That’s down to how you do with your club and hopefully it carries on – it doesn’t get any better than playing for the biggest club in the world and playing your country.

This article appears courtesy of The Football Association.

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