The Manchester United team which takes to the pitch against Astana looks set to be full of academy graduates.
While many of them will be young, some making their full debuts, one more experienced academy product needs the gametime more than anyone.
Jesse Lingard is yet to register a Premier League or Europa League goal or assist this season.
An assist at home to Rochdale is all Lingard has to show for his 2019/20 season so far and he would hope to change that in Kazakhstan.
His last United start came in the Carabao Cup win over Chelsea on October 30.
Lingard badly needs a goal for confidence
Lingard is a naturally exuberant personality, but he is playing like a player low on confidence right now.
He desperately needs a goal to his name to try and spark a return to form, and a dead rubber against a team without a Europa League point so far should provide the perfect opportunity.
The focus on Lingard’s lack of creative output must be playing on his mind; it has seen him go from a starting player for England to outside the squad with just months to go until Euro 2020.
He showed some promise at the weekend, creating four chances in 45 minutes against Sheffield United. This was a rarity, but a positive sign.
Lingard should relish being a leader
It’s a running joke that Lingard is constantly viewed as a young player despite the fact he is 27 next month but he should be the ideal player to inspire the next generation of young players.
He knows what it takes to come through at United and has the personality to relate to younger players on their level.
If he plays in Astana, he would be something of a leader, an international in a side full of youngsters who are all trying to do what he’s done – rise through the United ranks and establish themselves.
That should bring out the best in Lingard, offering a different focus for him.
The Englishman has fallen behind Andreas Pereira, a player who is even more peripheral, lightweight and inconsistent than himself, in the pecking order and should take every opportunity he can get to rectify that.
This is a chance for Lingard to really shine, and show he is a class apart. He needs to take it.
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