Jesse Lingard's new Man United contract defended by Jose Mourinho
MANCHESTER -- Jose Mourinho has defended Manchester United's decision to hand Jesse Lingard a new four-year contract in the wake of widespread criticism of the move on social media.
Lingard, 24, signed a new deal on Thursday which ties him to the club until June 2021, with the option of a further year, after making 29 appearances under Mourinho this season.
But despite the home-grown player scoring in two cup final victories in the past 12 months, as well as making himself an England international, Lingard's new contract has been questioned by many supporters.
Mourinho, however, insists that Lingard has earned his new deal and that United are right to secure him to a long-term contract.
"He is English, made in the academy," Mourinho told a news conference. "These players are very important for clubs.
"It is a very important contract and I congratulate him and the board to agree with him and give stability to me. Important for me to know he is not in danger [of going elsewhere].
"He is a good player already and, because of his age and happiness in the work, he can be even better."
Mourinho, meanwhile, proved less forthcoming on the future of Adnan Januzaj, who has spent the season on loan at Sunderland -- United's opponents on Sunday.
The 22-year-old spent six months on loan at Borussia Dortmund last season before being sent back to Old Trafford by the German outfit following a disappointing spell in the Bundesliga.
But with Januzaj due back at United in the summer, Mourinho refused to discuss whether he has a future at the club.
When asked if he had made a decision on Januzaj, Mourinho said: "Yes. I have decided, but I am not telling you."
United travel to Sunderland with Mourinho revealing that Ashley Young has joined his list of injured players with a groin problem.
"Wayne Rooney [is] not available and Young [is] injured," Mourinho said. "No more news. [Chris] Smalling, [Juan] Mata and [Phil] Jones are long-term."
Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_