Manchester United and England midfielder Jesse Lingard has admitted his busy summer at the World Cup impacted his fitness and his club form, after ending his 10-month wait for a club goal.
Lingard was a central part of England's World Cup success in the summer, as they were in the competition until the very end, eventually losing out to Belgium in the third-place playoff, and he was thrown back in at the deep end upon his return to Manchester United.
It led him to miss three weeks of action in October, but during the week he scored his first goal for United since the 2-1 win over Chelsea in February, and while he admits he paid the price for his busy summer, he says he is now back in shape.
“Coming off the World Cup, I played a lot of games over the course of last season and it kind of paid a toll,” the 25-year-old said, as quoted in The Telegraph.
“We didn’t get much rest in the summer after the World Cup, so, coming back, there’s always going to be little niggles here and there. I wasn’t really 100 per cent fit, but I feel raring to go now.”
While Lingard might be personally back in form, United are still a fair way from it, sitting eighth in the Premier League after consecutive 2-2 draws with Southampton and Arsenal, throwing away a two goal lead in the former.
While the top four looks like a distant dream, however, with eight points separating them from fourth-placed Chelsea, Lingard says he and the squad believe they remain in with a chance.
“There’s always pressure on people’s shoulders when it comes to Man United. It’s how you deal with the pressure,” he added.
“I think we believe as a squad. There’s a long way to go in the season.”