With just a matter of months until the rearranged Euro 2020 tournament kicks off, competition for places in Gareth Southgate’s England squad is hotting up.
Southgate’s side brushed past San Marino and Albania at a canter before also labouring to a hard fought victory over Poland in the recent international break, and the former Middlesbrough boss used the qualifiers as an opportunity to give some fringe players a chance.
James Ward-Prowse and Ollie Watkins both scored their first international goals, whilst Nick Pope was also picked in goal for the fixtures.
Meanwhile, Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard, who has been in scintillating form for West Ham since joining them on loan in January, also started the first game and impressed on his return to the national side.
At the start of the season, Lingard was perceived by many as having no chance of making the squad for this summer’s tournament, however his recent form has seen him force his way into Southgate’s thinking.
However, it seems his form has not just been noticed by his national manager, and West Ham are reportedly keen on making the midfielder’s switch permanent.
According to The Athletic, however, Manchester United will use Lingard as a bargaining tool to lure Declan Rice to Old Trafford.
The Hammers defensive midfielder has been in imperious form this season, and a host of big clubs are now reportedly keen on signing the player.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is reportedly keen on reinforcing his midfield and sees Rice as a suitable candidate to provide balance, whilst West Ham are rumoured to be intent on keeping hold of Lingard beyond the end of his loan deal.
Rice, 22, won back-to-back man of the match awards against Albania and Poland during the international break, and talk has once again turned to his future.
Rice was previously heavily linked with London rivals Chelsea, however a deal never materialised.
West Ham are rightfully reluctant to let the player go, but the lure of Lingard may encourage them to part with their prized asset.