Jesse Lingard’s name was surprisingly absent from England’s 26-man squad list for the upcoming European Championships, with Gareth Southgate choosing not to take the in-form star.
The playmaker had enjoyed a career renaissance during his loan spell with West Ham, and had played his way back into contention for the national side.
However, Southgate was forced to trim the squad from 33 to 26, and Lingard was one of the seven names to not make the cut.
Ollie Watkins, James Ward-Prowse, Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White and Ben Godfrey have all missed the cut, with it confirmed earlier in the day Mason Greenwood had withdrawn.
Speaking after the announcement was made, Southgate confirmed he gave Manchester United’s Lingard the chance to go home and exit the camp.
However, Lingard opted to stay with the team and remain in the camp until after Sunday’s friendly against Romania.
Lingard seems to be loved by his team-mates wherever he plays, and instantly became popular at the London Stadium having linked up with the likes of Declan Rice and Thomas Souceck.
And his decision to stay with the England squad proves he’s the ultimate team player, as he is willing to continue working towards a tournament he won’t be a part of.
It would have been easy for the playmaker to decide, after a hectic schedule in which Lingard helped West Ham qualify for the Europa League, to head home and rest up ahead of the next season.
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But instead, he will be a part of the England set-up until the rest of the week, and will be rewarded for his loyalty with a start against Austria on Wednesday night.
Speaking during the 2018 World Cup, Lingard said: “I’m there for the spirit of the camp to get everyone going. It’s always good for a player and a manager to be on the same level.”
And it’s clear that hasn’t changed despite a lengthy spell on the sidelines at Old Trafford, as was evidenced by Southgate’s confirmation that he’ll remain in the camp for the rest of the week.
Southgate confirmed afterwards that Ward-Prowse and Watkins had both opted to stay with the team as well.
“It was very difficult to speak to Jesse, who has given so much for England and performed so well for England over a long period of time,” he conceded.
“Those three [Lingard, Watkins, Ward-Prowse], I gave them the option of going home if they wanted to, but they were adamant they wanted to stay. They wanted to be part of the group.
“They know that they’ll be involved in these games. I think Jesse will probably start tomorrow.
“Their commitment has been exemplary and their professionalism has been brilliant.
“It meant that when I had the conversation with them yesterday, although they were disappointed they knew where they stood, and the atmosphere around the camp has stayed very relaxed.”