Manchester United host West Ham United in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening, and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has some big selection calls to make.
The Norwegian tactician has seen his side pick up 13 points from a possible 15 while on Premier League duties in the opening weeks of the new season, but a defeat to Young Boys in Europe has undermined their promising start.
Nevertheless, there’s been plenty of positives for the Red Devils too. Cristiano Ronaldo has bagged four goals in three games since returning to the club, summer signing Raphael Varane has made a very promising start to life in Manchester, and David de Gea has been rolling back the years in goal.
But arguably the most surprising aspect of United’s success is how Jesse Lingard has carried his outstanding form into 2021/22.
The 28-year-old massively struggled to produce positive displays for the Red Devils following the 2018 World Cup and scored just one top-flight goal in the entirety of 2019/20.
After failing to make a league appearance in the first half of last season, Lingard joined West Ham on loan last January and resurrected his career in emphatic fashion, bagging nine goals and providing five assists in just 16 appearances for the capital club.
There was much talk of Lingard leaving his boyhood club on a permanent basis over the summer after he entered the final year of his current contract, but Solskjaer decided to keep hold of the versatile forward, and now he’s being rewarded for doing just that.
In just 45 minutes of Premier League action, the England international has got on the scoresheet on two occasions, securing all three points for United against the Hammers with a stunning last-minute strike over the weekend.
And now the time has come for Lingard to be thrown in from the off, allowing him an opportunity to showcase his true ability in front of a packed Old Trafford.
With Marcus Rashford still injured, Edinson Cavani not yet at full fitness, Jadon Sancho still acclimatising to his new surroundings and Anthony Martial struggling for form, Lingard could be the main attacking threat in midweek for the 20-time English champions.
The £19.8m-rated wizard was labelled “outstanding” after firing the Hammers to sixth place last term, but now he must show he’s worthy of a place in Manchester United’s starting lineup against the east London outfit; Solskjaer just needs to give him the chance to do just that.