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Jesse Lingard has earned the right to start against Spurs

If Mourinho’s Manchester United is truly a meritocracy, then Lingard should be in the team on Saturday.

Swansea City v Manchester United - Carabao Cup Fourth Round Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Manchester United face a tough test at home on Saturday, a match against a high-flying Tottenham Hotspur side that has developed a habit of embarrassing opponents. José Mourinho hasn’t hidden his feelings about the squad’s attitude after poor performances in the draw at Liverpool, and especially the atrocious 2-1 loss at Huddersfield.

United faced Swansea City in a potentially tough midweek League Cup fixture, but looked in control once again, and secured a spot in the quarterfinals through a brace from Jesse Lingard in a 2-0 victory at the Liberty Stadium.

With United’s injury situation getting worse, seemingly daily, United are short of options as they look to rekindle their league form.

Lingard could provide the spark that United desperately need to get a key Premier League win.

Lingard, though not a regular this season, has proved more than capable of stepping up in big games. He’s scored in some big matches in his young career, and perhaps feels more at home at Wembley than Spurs have so far this season.

Lingard’s contributions could also help remedy United’s poor transition play. Against Liverpool Mourinho’s men put defense first, and their counter-attacking play suffered. Ashley Young, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Anthony Martial made few contributions offensively as United failed to maintain meaningful possession. Lingard’s passing and pace could help establish a few opportunities against a Spurs midfield that will be focused on the attack from the first whistle.

Lingard may not be the most natural footballer, but his work ethic and energy give him a boost, especially when the side is trying to create space in the final third.

United have lacked intelligent runs and through passes from Mkhitaryan and Mata the past few games, and Lingard could become the provider needed while others struggle to find form.

There is certainly a gap in quality between the Swans and the Spurs, but Mourinho shouldn’t discount Lingard’s form when preparing the team sheet for Saturday. Injuries aren’t the only reason Lingard deserves a chance.