Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted the “re-invented” Jesse Lingard is a part of his plans, while the Manchester United manager also hinted at a return for Dean Henderson.
Lingard enjoyed a productive loan spell with West Ham in the second half of last season, netting nine times in 16 Premier League appearances.
The 28-year-old’s impressive showings for the Hammers secured an England call-up at the end of the 2020-21 campaign, though he narrowly missed out on Gareth Southgate’s final Euro 2020 squad.
David Moyes is reportedly keen to bring Lingard back to London Stadium but Solskjaer outlined the midfielder’s importance to his United squad, despite an incredible depth of talent in that area of the pitch at Old Trafford.
“Don’t forget Jesse Lingard who has re-invented himself and has come back the man that we know he is with the quality,” Solskjaer said.
“He is going to play a big part as well.
“Of course there could be more rotation. We will be fresher. We will have to have a big and strong squad to be competitive in this league.
“It’s the best league in the world and we also have to be lucky with injuries, but I am looking forward to working with all these players.
“We have to work hard and see who is fit and available. There will be a few fit and available definitely [against Southampton next Sunday].”
Lingard’s nine goals for West Ham came from a total of 28 attempts, and he averaged a goal every 158 minutes.
In total, he played 1,424 minutes in the league for the Hammers, putting him behind only Bruno Fernandes (1,446) and Tomas Soucek (1,619) in terms of midfielders from each club from the point his loan started until the end of the season.
His four assists were second only to Fernandes, with his 18 chances created also more than any other West Ham or United midfielder bar the Portugal playmaker.
Lingard’s willingness to run with the ball also provided a different dimension to West Ham’s attack, and his 51 dribbles attempted was 20 more than second-ranked Pablo Fornals.
Solskjaer will have a welcome selection headache between the posts, too. David de Gea started in Saturday’s win, with Henderson still recovering from COVID-19.
However, the United manager confirmed Henderson could come back into contention for the trip to St. Mary’s Stadium as he returns to training on Monday.
“We will see how he feels and, hopefully, he can join in training on Monday,” Solskjaer added.
“It is a big important test for him and we hope he is feeling better.”
The pair shared goalkeeping duties last term, with De Gea appearing 26 times and Henderson granted 13 starts in the Premier League.
The Spain international saved 60 of the 280 shots he faced in the Premier League in 2020-21 for a save percentage of 65.22, compared to 76.47 for Henderson, who made 40 saves from 150 shots.
The England goalkeeper conceded 0.96 goals per 90 minutes across all competitions, while De Gea let in 1.25, though he did start double the games for Solskjaer’s men.
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