ROGER Hunt says he is “so pleased” that fellow Warringtonian Jesse Lingard has “picked up his mantle” by representing England at the World Cup.

The former William Beamont High School pupil has played a key role for Gareth Southgate’s men in their impressive run in Russia.

The midfielder is due to feature in England’s first semi-final appearance since 1990 against Croatia at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium tonight.

From a more local point of view, Lingard is the first Warrington-born player to appear at a World Cup since Hunt played six times in England’s victorious 1966 campaign.

Former Liverpool forward Hunt, who hails from Glazebury, says he has been keeping a close eye on 25-year-old Longford lad Lingard throughout the tournament.

“I’m so pleased for him. The boy’s been doing ever so well,” he said.

“I’m thrilled for him and it’s been a very exciting time for him and the rest of the squad.

“There’s plenty of Liverpool players in there who I’ve watched closely as well and I’m delighted for all of them.

“It’s good to have someone else from Warrington come in and carry the mantle after me.

Hunt, who remains Liverpool’s all-time record league goalscorer having scored 245 league goals for the Anfield club, played in all six games and scored three goals during England’s run to the 1966 final, where they famously beat West Germany 4-2 at Wembley.

Before then, he began his career at hometown club Stockton Heath, who went on to be renamed Warrington Town.

He says the euphoria which has accompanied England’s run in this year’s tournament feels very different to what he experienced 52 years ago.

“I’ve watched every minute of it and it has been fantastic,” he said.

“I’ve been watching it with the grandchildren, who have all been in their colours and cheering every goal like everybody seems to have been doing.

“In 1966, we didn’t realise what the general public were thinking about us in the same way as what the team today will have.

“We were down in London so we couldn’t really keep track of what other parts of the country were doing.”

Lingard, who first played football for junior club Penketh United, featured in all but one of England’s games before last night’s semi-final after establishing himself as a key member of Southgate’s team.

The Manchester United man scored his second international goal - and first in a competitive England match - during the 6-1 Group C victory over Panama in Nizhny Novgorod last month.