Harry Maguire’s situation ‘not ideal’ but Gareth Southgate still rates the England man

Gareth Southgate says Harry Maguire’s lack of playing time is “not an ideal situation” but the Manchester United captain, who is under fire, retains the support and confidence of the England manager.

The world’s most expensive defender is currently in disgrace at Old Trafford, with Erik ten Hag relegating him to the bench after losing the first two games of the season.

Maguire’s only start since then was in the Europa League defeat to Real Sociedad and last Thursday he made an 89th-minute appearance against Sheriff Tiraspol in the competition.

Southgate included the 29-year-old in his England squad earlier that day despite his lack of action, one of several similar issues he is dealing with, which he likened to a situation handled by England rugby manager Eddie Jones. .

Gallagher’s reigning Premier League champions Saracens were relegated at the end of the 2019-20 season following salary-cap breaches, meaning a number of key international players had to ply their trade at the second tier.

“I just read Eddie Jones’ book and he had a similar situation with the Saracens players,” Southgate said.

“Even thinking about it, he felt that they were his best players and, although they were not well cooked, they were going to be better than the players who were not at the level.

England’s Harry Maguire during a training session at St George’s Park (Mike Egerton/PA)

“So I don’t think there’s a lot of players that aren’t here now that are at the level to come in and play.

“Look, clearly, it’s not an ideal situation. You want your best players to play regularly so they are in a good place physically and in a good place mentally.

“But he is an important player for us. I think it’s important to support our best players.

“In the team that we picked, there are a fair number of players that you could argue we could have left out at this point, but I think we wanted to keep that group together and keep them involved, to feel a part of it.

“But they also know that for some of them they need to play more regularly because we’re only a few weeks into pre-season now, so physically if they’ve had about 90 minutes then that’s fine.

“Another seven or eight weeks, then that starts to get more complicated.”

Asked if he had spoken to Maguire about his current situation, Southgate said: “I haven’t felt the need to speak to him any differently than the rest of the players.

“I’m trying to pick up individually with all of them, that’s been a little bit more complicated this time because we have 28, so I’m getting there!

“Look, he understands that he is at a big club, a big transfer fee and the captain of the club, so I think that is why the focus has been more on him.

“But he is focused on training well every day and getting back to the team.”

All 46 of Maguire’s caps have been for Southgate, for whom he performed superbly during England’s run to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and last year’s European Championship final.

“I think, look, you always have to back up your judgment and we feel he’s an important player,” Southgate said ahead of Friday’s Nations League match against Euro 2020 rivals Italy.

Harry Maguire of England

Harry Maguire was one of the stars of England’s march to the Euro 2020 final (Nick Potts/PA)

“If we thought that there are experienced players ready to step in and play at a level above him, there would be a different consideration and in some positions there would be a different level of competition in that way.

“He is our most dominant midfielder. Him and John (Stones) are really unbelievable on the ball – the amount of pressure they’ve put on the team in the tournaments we’ve played because we don’t always have that pivot player in midfield who can progress the game.

“It means there’s a lot more pressure on our centre-backs to use the ball well and those two are as good as anyone in world football at doing that.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.