Harry Maguire urges England fans to continue supporting team

Gareth Southgate's team relegated from Nations League after defeat to Italy and next face Germany

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England defender Harry Maguire urged supporters to stick with the team after a 1-0 Nations League defeat to Italy, stressing that the support of the fans is crucial with this year's World Cup on the horizon.

Friday's defeat in Italy relegated England from the Nations League top tier after a campaign in which they lost twice to Hungary - including 4-0 at Wembley - and once to Italy along with two draws.

"We're a strong group mentally - we've given people an unbelievable five years or so," Maguire told the BBC. "We're in a period where we have to come together. The fans are probably frustrated and they have to stick with us because we've got a big tournament coming up.

"To win that tournament or progress in that tournament, we need the fans with us, so whatever has happened in recent months we are working tirelessly hard to improve that and get back on track, because it is a big winter and World Cup and we need to make sure we're ready. And we will be."

Meanwhile, Germany manager Hansi Flick said "it is better to be angry now than at the World Cup" as he promised his side will learn from their 1-0 home defeat to Hungary when they face old rivals England next week.

"I am absolutely disappointed because as a footballer you hate to lose," Flick said after Friday's defeat in Leipzig, his first since taking over the Germany job.

Flick said the first-half performance was the worst of his 14 games in charge, but took some responsibility himself.

"I opted for a line-up that just didn't work so well," he said.

"The way we approached the game, we can do much better. The time for experimentation is over."

Flick's "experimentation" referred to putting attacking midfielder Jonas Hofmann at right back, which he abandoned at half-time with the home side trailing to Adam Szalai's 17th-minute goal.

"We wanted to try something with Jonas at right-back... we wanted to see two attacking full-backs," said Flick.

"As a result, we couldn't get in flow. I have to take some of the blame for that."

Updated: September 24, 2022, 9:47 AM