Manchester United youngster Jesse Lingard has had a good start to life with Derby County but will need to take it up a level if he is to catch the eye of Louis van Gaal.
The 22-year-old will hope to be a key part for the Rams as they embark on what Darren Bent has described to dcfc official as seven cup finals in their quest for promotion. However, if he is to become a first-team player in Louis van Gaal’s side next season then he will have to ensure that he does force himself into the side and play a key part in that quest.
So far on his loan spell with the East Midlands side, the United youngster has featured in more losses than wins for the Rams as injuries have accumulated and resulted in a huge blow for the club’s automatic promotion chances.
The international break has come at a perfect time for Steve McClaren’s side as he can now look forward to entering the final seven matches with a near enough fully fit side.
What does Lingard have to improve on to become a key part in Derby’s promotion push?
The pacy winger has excited fans when he has come off the bench, but has not really been able to cement his place in the side.
Against Wolves - Derby’s last league match - he was asked to start on the left of an attacking three but failed to make much of an impact as the possession-dominant Derby were left rueing defensive mistakes and missed chances in a 2-0 loss.
The key for Lingard now will be to provide a level of consistency, work ethic and quality to prove he deserves a place.
Steve McClaren is blessed with talent in wide areas, so it will be hard for Lingard, but if he is to prove to van Gaal that he is worthy of a place in the squad next season then he will have to find a way of breaking through.