WAYNE ROONEY reckons Jesse Lingard can battle his way into Manchester United’s starting line-up after his eye-catching West Ham loan spell.
The Red Devils icon was sharing his thoughts with Sky Sports after seeing his Derby County team fall to a 2-1 loss to United in a pre-season friendly.
Tahith Chong and rising starlet Facundo Pellistri netted for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team at a sunbaked Pride Park.
The Rams reduced the deficit with a solitary goal scored by Colin Kazim-Richards.
And the clash saw Lingard, 28, make his first return to action for the club since departing for a half-season stint with the Irons.
Lingard’s last encounter for the Old Trafford giants was on the bench as an unused substitute in January during a 2-1 home win in the Prem against Aston Villa.
And the England forward came on as a half-time sub against Rooney’s Rams with the Red Devils set to play Queens Park Rangers in a friendly next.
The United ace put in an energetic shift in attack striking the crossbar with a shot from distance.
Rooney, 35, told Sky Sports: “Jesse is a fantastic player. He’s done excellent when he went to West Ham on loan and sometimes that’s what kick starts your career again.
“He went through a difficult period and he got through it.
“And his way of getting through it was going on loan, getting back to playing football again and he’s given himself a great chance of getting back in the squad at Manchester United.”
WEST HAM SPELL
Lingard, who missed out on a spot in Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 England squad, enjoyed an impressive spell boosting West Ham’s attack from January to June this year.
The Cheshire-born forward netted nine goals and provided five assists in 16 Prem appearances for David Moyes’ Hammers.
And his efforts helped the team finish sixth in the top-flight last term and qualify for the Europa League this season.
Lingard, who made his senior United debut at 19 in 2011, has impressed Solskjaer with his upturn in form after falling down the Red Devils’ pecking order in 2020.
And the United gaffer, who watched the forward in action against Derby, suggested Lingard was currently part of his plans for next season.
Solskjaer said: “Jesse has come back, been bright, he wants to fight for his place and there’s nothing better than seeing players want to fight for their place.
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“He came seven or eight days later than the rest but he’s a naturally fit boy
“He’s a man, he played with a few boys but he’s one of the men.
“What he did towards the end of last season, that’s the true Jesse, that’s what we know he’s capable of and, for us, I think we saw towards the end that we lacked some options at times and Jesse is in the plans at the moment.”