Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper says the Jesse Lingard he has encountered does not match public perception.
Lingard raised eyebrows when he chose to sign for Forest on a free transfer following his exit from Manchester United, having turned down interest from his former loan club West Ham.
The England international spent most of the summer making TikTok videos and enjoying a high profile on social media.
But Cooper has not seen that version of him and has been impressed with the 29-year-old.
“I’m only concerned about how we see Jesse every day with Nottingham Forest, his game preparation and how he plays in games,” he said.
“I’ve been happy with how he has settled in.
“It feels like he’s been here longer than a few weeks. We are trying to push him to be at his best because when he’s at his best he will be an important player for us.
“I’m looking at him – he looks happy to be here. You do look and you do see what relationships are being built and who is hanging around with who.
“There are so many people who have a view on us as players and managers, you can tie yourself up in knots if you think about it too much.
“They were positive first impressions. He’s a likeable guy. Very into his football.
“Not every player is, some like to step away from it. He’s interested in tactics, training – he’s been the last one out there – always has a ball at his feet.
“I understand there will be a lot of questions about what he’s done in the past.
“But I’ve not seen anything untoward.”
Lingard will want to come out firing as Forest play their first Premier League match since 1999 on Sunday against the Hammers, who he could have joined in the summer.
But Cooper added: “The opponent is not relevant as to how I look at him.
“I just want him to be at his best, at his happiest for Nottingham Forest. When you do that, you get the best out of them.
“If Jesse can get himself to a level where he can be at his best, we know he can make a difference in any game.
“That’s what we want to do, but to do that we need to make sure everyone else is at their best as well.
“We need to get him good service and good balls then they have the opportunity to win games.”
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