Manchester United forward Jesse Lingard has insisted that he's close to returning to full fitness, reports the club's official site.
The 22-year-old, who picked up an injury after being named in Louis van Gaal's starting XI for the club's opening day Premier League defeat at home to Swansea City, has revealed that playing in a behind-closed-doors game, as well as starring in two other full 90-minute matches, has helped his recovery at Old Trafford.
Returning to fitness
In fact, Lingard's latest outing for the Red Devils came at the Leigh Sports Village in last night's Under-21 clash with Liverpool, as Warren Joyce's side secured all three points over their rivals.
And Lingard has insisted that he's feeling great, as he told MUTV: "It's obviously amazing to be back. It's been good and to get the three points is the cherry on the top really because it was against Liverpool.
"I think I'm very close now [to full fitness]. I started the Norwich game and played about 70 minutes but began cramping up. I had a behind-closed-doors game and played the full 90 minutes in that, and another 90 minutes here, so I feel really good.
"The physios and backroom staff worked with me from day one to get the knee right. I don't think the boss wanted to rush me into any games really, especially as he said I would come back at the end of the December when, in fact, it was the start [of the month]. I thought the boss didn't want to rush me and now I feel it's the right time to get back playing."
"I like getting on the ball and making things happen," he explained. "It was hard in the first half due to Liverpool's two sitting midfielders but we broke them down in the second half with our game plan.
And now Lingard has set his sights on returning to the first-team setup with the Red Devils, as he's targeted a role behind the strikers at the Theatre of Dreams.
The youngster's well aware, however, that the likes of Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Co. are competing for places in the side, but he seems ready to prove himself over the coming weeks and months.
When asked about the role behind the strikers, Lingard finished by saying: "Obviously, Juan [Mata] plays there and Wazza [Wayne Rooney] can play there as well. But I'll keep doing in training what I do, day in and day out, and back my ability."
There's no doubt about it, it certainly won't be easy for the talented forward to break into the side over the next few months, but he's clearly highly rated by his manager.
In fact, after being named on the bench against Yeovil Town, Lingard appears to be in Van Gaal's plans, but it remains to be seen as to whether he will be handed a key role in the near future.
Manchester United fans: Will Lingard become a key player at Old Trafford? Will he get his chance to shine? Have your say in the comments section below!