Jesse Lingard has been told he has put his England future in jeopardy by staying at Manchester United.
Lingard was heavily linked with a permanent move to West Ham in the summer having scored nine and assisted five in an impressive loan spell in the back end of last season.
But it never materialised and the versatile midfielder wound up staying at Manchester United where he could well struggle for game time given the level of competition currently at Old Trafford.
United add Jadon Sancho out wide, while Cristiano Ronaldo returned, likely taking the striker role.
And while it’s only the latter of those arrivals that will concern Lingard, who can play out wide, as well as in an attacking midfield role, opportunities will still be hard to come by amid the presence of Bruno Fernandes.
That has been proven by the 28-year-old only seeing a handful of minutes in United’s first three games of the season, though he has done well for England, scoring twice and providing an assist during the win over Andorra on Sunday.
But despite that form, former Tottenham striker Darren Bent believes Lingard’s England opportunities could now be reduced further due to United stay.
Bent said on talkSPORT: “Even if he keeps putting in these type of performances for England, do you think it gets to a point where Gareth has to leave him out?
“If other players are playing week in week out, can Gareth still pick Lingard solely off international form?
“You say that, but if you can remember Danny Welbeck, he had a period where he was scoring absolutely, every single time he played for England but he wasn’t really playing much club football. Could we see the same with Lingard?
“For me it’s a little bit disappointing for Jesse because, his first half of last season was difficult, couldn’t get much game time, he goes to West Ham and he’s a revelation.
“He’s playing week in week out, he looks happy again, West Ham are thriving off his energy, the way he’s playing, he’s making other players play better as well.
“I thought they created something really good on the back end of last season, he was fantastic. He was unfortunate not go to the Euros because his form warranted that.
“But the fact he’s gone back to United and they’ve bought players in, they’ve bought Jadon Sancho in, they’ve bought Cristiano Ronaldo in, his minutes are going to diminish even more.
“I still think it’s important he plays week in week out, because he is that good of a player.”
Unfortunately for Lingard, Bent is right in what he says given Gareth Southgate’s preference towards players who are playing regularly.
And while Lingard is good enough to challenge for a spot at United, the level of talent Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has at his disposal means opportunities will be hard to come by no matter how well he plays.
Such a scenario would mean Lingard could miss out on a World Cup spot with England, but time is on the 28-year-old’s side.
With the World Cup not until the winter of 2022, Lingard could still leave United for more regular game time in January or next summer and do enough elsewhere to win his spot in Southgate’s squad.