I was the first player to be handed an England debut by Gareth Southgate, now I’m a free agent at 30

6 months ago 57

RICO LEWIS is expected to be handed his England debut tonight by Gareth Southgate following an unexpected call-up.

The 18-year-old was drafted into the squad at the last minute following injuries to Jude Bellingham and Levi Colwill.

Lingard has made 32 appearances for EnglandGetty

But he is now likely to start at left-back for England following Kieran Trippier’s withdrawal from the squad due to personal reasons.

Since taking over in 2016, Southgate has handed out starts to a number of players as he’s looked at and tinkered with an overall very consistent squad.

But the first player he gave a debut cap to back in 2016 was Jesse Lingard, when the then-Manchester United star played in a 2-0 win over Malta.

Lingard would go on to become a trusted part of Southgate’s England squad – starting in midfield for England during their knockout games at the 2018 World Cup.

He would go on to make 32 appearances for the Three Lions, his last one coming against Andorra in 2021.

The versatile midfielder is now without a club, after being released by Nottingham Forest this summer.

Lingard was Forest’s statement signing after their promotion to the Premier League last year, and he was handed a £100,000-a-week contract after joining as a free agent from Manchester United.

He joined Forest having been relegated to a bit-part role under United under then-interim manager Ralf Rangnick.

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In the previous season, he had shone at West Ham under David Moyes as he looked to resurrect his career.

West Ham were also in contention to sign Lingard on a permanent deal when he joined Forest.

Moyes again handed Lingard a chance in recent months, with the winger training with the Hammers over the summer to keep fit in the hope of signing with a new club.

Lingard even played matches for West Ham’s youth side with a view to a move to the first team.

But in October, he flew out to Saudi Arabia for a month long trial at Al-Ettifaq – who are managed by Steven Gerrard.

The club opted not to make the deal a permanent one and unfortunately, Lingard’s search for a new club continues.

Reports claim that the Saudi outfit did not have enough space in their budget to afford Lingard’s salary.

It is also suggested that the club would have had to release two foreign players due to quota rules put in place by the Saudi Pro League.

The reports adds that no pre-contract has been offered for Lingard to join in January and that a deal is “not likely” to happen.

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