Jesse Lingard says friendships will be put on hold when Manchester United host derby rivals Manchester City on Sunday.
Pep Guardiola’s side travel to Old Trafford seeking to extend their eight-point lead at the top of the table, while United will look to breathe life into their own title challenge by handing City their first loss of the season.
Each squad features internationals from England, Spain, Belgium, France and Argentina but Lingard insists those relationships will mean little once the derby begins.
“You know quite a lot of them [City’s Academy players] growing up, and through the England set-up as well,” Lingard told United Review, Sunday’s official match-day programme.
“I’m good friends with Raheem [Sterling] off the pitch. But when you’re on the pitch, there are no friends and we’re there to do a job and win the game.”
With Jose Mourinho gradually losing patience with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata, Lingard appears certain to feature for United after igniting his season in recent weeks,
Lingard was given just his second Premier League start of the season against Watford and seized the opportunity with both hands, helping himself to a goal and an assist in a 4-2 United victory.
The 24-year-old followed that up with two goals in a 3-1 win at Arsenal and he goes into Sunday’s game with plenty of optimism.
“I am confident,” Lingard said. “It’s two great teams going out there and you don’t know what the game is going to be like.
“It might be a battle; it might not be pretty. But if we come out on top, it’s always good for the city of Manchester. We need to make sure that Manchester is red at the end of the day. Like us, they have lots of big players.
“When [Kevin] De Bruyne’s on the ball, he’s always got that eye for a killer pass that can put a player one on one with the keeper, and Raheem Sterling’s been popping up with the late goals.
“It’s going to be full-on for 90-plus minutes. We need to be on point until that whistle goes, so everyone needs to stay highly-concentrated throughout.
“As long as we start the game well, like we did at Arsenal, I don’t see any reason why we can’t win.”