Gareth Southgate keeps faith in Harry Maguire for England despite woes with Man United

Three Lions manager says centre-back has credit in bank after previous success and is set to start in Ivory Coast friendly on Tuesday

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Gareth Southgate has insisted he still has faith in Harry Maguire by declaring the out-of-form Manchester United captain has proved he can excel at the top level in international football.

The England manager said Maguire has credit in the bank after helping his country finish fourth in the 2018 World Cup and become runners-up in Euro 2020, when he was a pillar of the defence who did not concede in open play.

But while Southgate has retained faith in the centre-back despite some torrid times in a United shirt, he warned that his patience is not unlimited. He has dropped Maguire’s Old Trafford teammates Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho and hinted that he is prepared to omit the defender if his struggles continue.

However, he is keen to reward players who have served him well in the past and Maguire, whose 41 caps have all come under Southgate, was named in Uefa’s team of the tournament for Euro 2020.

The England manager said: “He has helped get us to a World Cup semi-final and a European Championship final so there is no doubt he is more than capable of playing for us at a high level. He was more than capable for us in autumn.

“Selection is always a difficult conundrum because we have got players we know have performed well in an England shirt. There has got to be some level of scrutiny of how people are performing with their clubs. That has got to be a factor.

“The club [United] are in a difficult moment and there could be any number of reasons for that. That doesn’t mean players can be poor for a couple of years and still find their way in. Sometimes it depends on competition for positions. We have left some forward players out who haven’t been in good form but there are direct replacements.”

Maguire is likely to begin against Ivory Coast on Tuesday after being rested for Saturday’s 2-1 victory against Switzerland. Harry Kane’s winner then was his 49th international goal, drawing him level with Sir Bobby Charlton and leaving only Wayne Rooney ahead of him.

Southgate will probably pick many of the players who were substitutes on Saturday but said Kane’s determination to start reminds him of some of England’s centurions.

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“If he had his way he would play 90 minutes of every fixture which is a brilliant quality to have because if your captain wants to be at every camp and playing every minute of every game, it sets the tone for everything else,” he added.

“It is why he has the number of caps he has. We used to talk about [Steven] Gerrard and [Frank] Lampard and Ashley Cole, they got 100-plus caps because they committed every time to coming with England. That’s what you want.”

Luke Shaw, another who has had a difficult campaign with United, praised Southgate for creating an enjoyable atmosphere with England but the manager felt the credit belongs with the squad.

“I hope we have an environment where all the players think they can be the best version of themselves,” he said. “We have got super characters. I am looking at the young players coming in, the older ones are sitting with them at mealtimes, making them feel at ease.”

Tyrone Mings’ place in the squad could be under threat after Marc Guehi made an assured debut on Saturday but the Aston Villa captain believes the strength in depth is beneficial. “That is only a good thing for England so that is not something to be necessarily scared by or threatened by,” he said. “I think it is really healthy and we will see the benefits on the pitch.”

Updated: March 28, 2022, 3:39 PM
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