By Simon Peach, Pa Chief Football Writer
Published: 00:17 BST, 1 September 2019 | Updated: 00:17 BST, 1 September 2019
England manager Gareth Southgate has defended his selection of Jesse Lingard, stressing the importance of supporting the out-of-form Manchester United attacking midfielder.
The Three Lions boss named four uncapped players in his 25-man squad for September's Euro 2020 qualification double-header against Bulgaria and Kosovo.
Manchester City right-back Kyle Walker was an eye-catching omission from the group, while a number of onlookers questioned whether fellow World Cup semi-finalist Lingard should have made the cut.
Jesse Lingard has retained his England place despite poor form for Manchester United
After being rapped over the knuckles by United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer during the summer for a controversial social media post, the 26-year-old hit the ground running during an impressive pre-season - a level of performance that he has been unable to translate into Premier League action.
'I think you'd have to say I've seen him have better spells for United,' Southgate said.
'I think Ole has a young, energetic team, and I think Jesse's pressing and the energy he brings to that has been an important part of what they've tried to do in the first few games.
'The inclusion of Jesse for us is partly because his form for us has always been good.
'I know there was stats on his goals. He was only involved in four games for us last season because of injury - two starts and two off the bench.