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Here, our friends at Football Whispers explain why you need to have United trio Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Ashley Young in your Fantasy XI for World Cup matchday three.
Lingard was one of two United players to start in England’s 2-1 win over Tunisia in their Group G opener. The 25-year-old attacking midfielder has seen his career move in the right direction over the last two years. Having established himself as a favourite of Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford, Lingard has cemented his place in the England line-up too.
He was a regular starter under Gareth Southgate in the matches leading up to Russia and followed in the footsteps of United legends Bryan Robson and David Beckham by pulling on the No.7 shirt for his country at a World Cup.
Lingard was typically vibrant from the outset, completing two take-ons and managing eight touches in Tunisia’s penalty area.
The Warrington native enjoyed his most prolific season for United in 2017/18, scoring 13 times to more than double his previous best of six in the 2015/16 campaign. For England, he has only managed one in 13 appearances but was unlucky not to add to that tally against the Eagles of Carthage, hitting the post after beating the keeper.
The United fan-favourite also passed up a couple more good scoring opportunities so, while he may not have brought his shooting boots to Volgograd, he was significantly involved in England’s attacks.
He should have an assist to his name, too, having laid one on a plate for Raheem Sterling only for the Manchester City winger to scuff his effort wide with the goal at his mercy.
Lingard will demand better finishing from himself but his movement, sharp passing and speed can open up Belgium’s defence on matchday three, so leaving him out of your XI would be a risky move.
Rashford is itching to be unleashed at this World Cup. The 20-year-old forward, who matched Lingard’s 13-goal haul for United last season, replaced Sterling for the final 20 minutes of the Tunisia game and is pushing for a start following Sterling’s difficult opening night.
Rashford and Lingard could both conceivably play just behind Harry Kane in a 3-4-2-1 formation. With an injury casting doubt over Dele Alli’s tournament, a Rashford-Lingard axis off of Kane would offer England plenty of speed and movement, but also the advantage of the duo knowing each other’s games extremely well from playing together at United.
Rashford offers England that blistering turn of pace and, when he gets the ball, he tries to make things happen by driving the team forward.
During qualifying, Rashford averaged more open play key passes per 90 (4.54) and more successful take-ons per 90 (4.97) than any of his team-mates. He also offered a glimpse of what he is capable of with a stunning strike in the pre-tournament friendly win over Costa Rica.
Young’s England career looked dead and buried at one point. Then, having not been called up for four years, Southgate included the left-back in his squad for the friendly double-header against Germany and Brazil in November.
His consistency in a United shirt since then helped convince Southgate to give Young the nod ahead of Manchester United transfer target Danny Rose.
Young played the full 90 minutes against Tunisia and his experience is critical in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of World Cup games. Young will turn 33 before the tournament ends and, with Gary Cahill having fallen behind Harry Maguire in the pecking order, is very much the elder statesman in an otherwise youthful England set-up (which has an average age of just over 26).
Young should definitely be in your Fantasy XI for matchday three. He is the most reliable candidate to deal with Belgium’s Dries Mertens on that flank and knows Romelu Lukaku’s game as well as anyone. In addition, Young offers natural width going forward and his delivery from set-pieces or in open play is as accurate as anyone in the England set-up.
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by Tom Bodell