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Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper comments on Jesse Lingard’s reunion with Manchester United

Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper comments on Jesse Lingard’s reunion with Manchester United

Steve Cooper has acknowledged that he wants Jesse Lingard to ‘focus on his football’ when Nottingham Forest face Manchester United next week.

Forest make the trip to Old Trafford sitting in the Premier League relegation zone, despite collecting four points from their last two league fixtures.

Furthermore, Forest have also recorded two impressive wins in the EFL Cup, first beating Tottenham Hotspur before the World Cup before thrashing Blackburn Rovers upon their return to competitive action earlier this week.

In each of the cup fixtures, Lingard has contributed a goal and an assist, a vast improvement on his showings for Forest in the top flight.

The 30-year-old has found some form ahead of his first return to his former club, who he was contracted to between 2011 and 2022.

Manchester United's Jesse Lingard celebrates scoring against West Ham United on September 19, 2021© Reuters

During that time, Lingard made a total of 232 appearances in all competitions, those outings coming in between numerous loan periods spent elsewhere.

Nevertheless, Lingard initially linked up with United at the age of seven, and Cooper has acknowledged that their upcoming fixture at the Theatre of Dreams will represent an important occasion.

However, Cooper is hopeful that the England international requires no extra motivation as his team bid to move outside of the bottom three.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference, Cooper said: “I hope we’re all motivated to go to Old Trafford and play well. Jesse was there a long time so it will be an important day for him.

Nottingham Forest head coach Steve Cooper during 5-0 defeat at Arsenal on October 30, 2022.© Reuters

“At the same time he and everybody else need to focus on what we are in control of and that is the performance. Whatever team we decide to go with, the guys that start the game and the guys that finish the game have to concentrate on what it takes to do well on the day.

“Jesse has experience, he’s played in big occasions before and he’ll know that the best thing to do is to concentrate on the football. If he’s selected to play that’s what he needs to do.”

Forest and United will be squaring off for the first time since 1999, when United famously won 8-1 in a Premier League game at the City Ground.

The East Midlands outfit have lost their last six encounters with United, their most recent success coming all the way back in December 1994.

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