After he scored twice on his West Ham debut as they cruised past Aston Villa, David Moyes said Jesse Lingard has the potential to join England’s European Championship team.
With a thunderous effort after 56 minutes, Manchester United loanee Lingard – making his first Premier League appearance in 13 months – scored West Ham’s second.
And in the closing stages, the 28-year-old doubled his tally after Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez struggled to hang on to his strike.
“It is great when you bring someone in and they do well,” West Ham manager Moyes told BBC Sport.
“If he keeps up the form he showed tonight, and he is not completely match fit, scoring the goals, he will not be far way from Gareth Southgate’s England squad in the summer.
“At Villa Park, midfielder Tomas Soucek put the visitors in front, finishing in the 51st minute off Said Benrahma’s throw.
With nine minutes left, Ollie Watkins gave Villa a glimmer of hope, making it 2-1, before Lingard’s second rounded up the Hammers’ goals.
West Ham stays fifth, two points behind Liverpool in fourth, who lost 1-0 to Brighton at home, while Villa remains seventh, six points behind the Hammers.
Lingard has not played a Premier League match since the final day of last season, going into this fixture, and has only made three cup appearances this competition for his parent club.
But Moyes inserted the midfielder into his starting line-up, and his ingenuity was seen from the off by the England international. In the final third of the opening period, no player from West Ham had more shots or touches.
“We didn’t feel like we did enough [in our 3-1 loss to Liverpool] at the weekend but we did today,” Moyes said.”With that, Jesse supported us. We had to play well because of the standard of Villa.
In a first half dominated by the away side, Lingard, Michail Antonio and Aaron Cresswell all forced fine saves from Villa keeper Martinez.
The new number 11 of West Ham completely deserved his first goal, striking the ball between Martinez’s hands seconds after Soucek had ended the deadlock.
In order to deny Antonio shortly after the hour mark, Villa defender Tyrone Mings completed an impressive goalline clearance.
Two minutes after the hosts had pulled a goal back, Lingard rounded off his excellent debut, latching on to Antonio’s pass to regain his side’s two-goal lead.
“I started tonight, scored two goals and got three points. I was smiling before the game and during, I just enjoy playing football,
” Lingard told BT Sport.”It has been a long time, I have come here to get game time and scored two goals but like I said, three points is the most important.”