Jesse Lingard made his first appearance since February in the Premier League against Crystal Palace last Thursday.
He was a second half substitute in the 2-0 win at Selhurst Park.
After this re-appearance, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was asked about whether Lingard has a future at Manchester United.
Since Bruno Fernandes was signed, Lingard has made only three of nine Premier League matchday squads.
Solskjaer told the club website: “Jesse is a part of the club and he’s worked really hard. He deserves his chance to come back in and we know his qualities. We know that Jesse’s got different qualities to other players and he knows that we value him.”
But on Sunday, Solskjaer’s actions spoke loudly.
Lingard failed to make the substitute’s bench at Wembley against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final, even with the squad down a member due to Luke Shaw’s injury.
Time running out
Solskjaer is always positive in front of the media and he was hardly going to say ‘no, Jesse does not have a future at United’, when asked a direct question.
Earlier this season Solskjaer was pretty economical with the truth when asked about Alexis Sanchez’s future. He backed the Chilean to play an important role, and then days later he was sent out on loan to Inter Milan for the season.
Lingard has been consistently linked with an exit in 2020, with The Telegraph reporting over the past week he is one of six players who could be sold this summer.
Solskjaer did not exactly come out and say ‘Lingard is staying’ either. Instead his comments were diplomatic and designed to try and give the player a little boost, without over-committing.
Lingard does still have a little time to make an impact. There are two Premier League matches left, and then there is the Europa League.
But from what we have seen since the restart, these opportunities are passing Lingard by.
The win over Palace provided a flicker of hope to him, which was then quickly snuffed out by his omission from a rotated FA Cup semi-final line-up.
Perhaps there will be a graceful way for him to bow out yet, with one big moment. The loss to Chelsea could prompt Solskjaer to shake things up.
Yet it increasingly looks like his Old Trafford career will end quietly, and there will be no FA Cup final to bow out with.
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