Scotsman David Moyes has little interest in protecting Jesse Lingard for England duty but allayed fears of an injury after he was substituted in West Ham’s 3-2 defeat to Newcastle United.
Lingard has been in sensational form since joining the Hammers on loan from Manchester United, forcing his way back into the Three Lions set-up.
His goal at St James’ Park on Saturday was his ninth for West Ham, already his best tally in a single Premier League season.
But seven minutes after that penalty strike, by which time Newcastle had restored their lead against the visiting side who were reduced to 10 men, Lingard went down and required treatment.
The midfielder had to be substituted, concerning supporters of both West Ham – who have come to rely on their loan star – and England.
But manager Moyes said: “I think it was just cramp. I’ve not had the chance to speak to the physio about it, but I don’t think it was anything serious, to be honest.”
Lingard had a team-high four shots against Newcastle but was less effective than in previous weeks, besides the spot-kick which looked to have completed a stunning second-half fightback.
Moyes is not worried West Ham are running Lingard into the ground ahead of Euro 2020, though. England will play Scotland in the group stage of the tournament on June 18.
“I think the one thing about Jesse is he is a really fit boy,” Moyes said. “I think Jesse wants to play.
“I think I push all my players hard – I’ve never done anything else but push them hard – and I pushed them hard today to go out and play better and try to give ourselves a chance.
“Jesse is no different. He won’t get any favoured treatment – certainly not for a Scotsman going into the Euros this year.
“Overall, we’re really pleased with him. He does a lot of good things.
“He was quieter today, I have to say. I know he got us the goal, but he was a bit quieter because we just didn’t play well enough playing into the forward players and around them.”
Awful defensive errors had given Newcastle a 2-0 lead on Tyneside.
First, Craig Dawson – already on a booking – lunged in on Joelinton following a heavy touch. Play continued and Allan Saint-Maximin’s shot was turned into his own net by Issa Diop.
Dawson was credited with an error leading to a goal but was also sent off, his first red card in 345 English league appearances.
Diop’s own goal was West Ham’s fourth of the season – a league high – yet their defensive woes did not end there. Five minutes later, Lukasz Fabianski dropped a routine corner for his own error leading to a goal as Joelinton tapped in.
Newcastle appeared reluctant to push for a third, though, and a Diop header – making him the second player, after team-mate Tomas Soucek, to score at either end in a game this season – gave West Ham hope 17 minutes from time.
Lingard then punished Ciaran Clark’s handball from the penalty spot with 10 minutes to go, before Joe Willock was introduced from the restart and quickly nodded the winner.
Moyes’ Champions League-chasing side are still fourth despite the defeat, but have played a game more than Chelsea and Liverpool, one and three points behind respectively.
“It was an opportunity for us to take three points,” Moyes said. “We like to talk about the Champions League – we love the sound of that – but we’re realistic.
“The quality of the teams who are around us and below us have been over this course many more times than us.
“The way the players are playing is fantastic. Today we made a couple of mistakes which probably cost us the game.”