HomeUSAHarry Maguire situation 'not ideal' but Gareth Southgate still considers EnglandOUS...

Harry Maguire situation ‘not ideal’ but Gareth Southgate still considers EnglandOUS News

Gareth Southgate said Harry Maguire’s lack of playing time was “not an ideal situation” but the Manchester United captain under fire has retained the support and faith of his England manager.

The world’s most expensive defender is currently disgraced at Old Trafford and Erik ten Hag left him on the bench after losing their first two games of the season.

Maguire has since only lost to Real Sociedad in the Europa League, making it into the competition in the 89th minute against Sheriff Tiraspol last Thursday.

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

(PA Wire)

Southgate recruited the 29-year-old into their England squad earlier that day despite a lack of action – one of several similar issues he was dealing with and compared it to a situation led by England rugby coach Eddie Jones.

The reigning Gallagher Premiership champions Saracens were relegated at the end of the 2019-20 season following salary cap violations, meaning a number of key international players had to make their trades in the second tier.

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

“Even when he thought about it, he felt that they were their best players, and although they were undercooked, they would still be better than players who were not at the same level.

“So I don’t think there are a lot of players who aren’t here right now and are still at the level to get in and play.

“Look, frankly, this is not an ideal situation. You want your best players to play regularly so that they are in a good place physically and mentally in a good place.

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

“The squad we’ve chosen, there’s a lot of players 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 make them feel part of it.

“But they also know that some of them need to play more regularly because we’re only a few weeks into the pre-season, so it’s okay if they have a few 90 minutes physically.

“Another seven, eight weeks, and then it starts to get more complicated.”

When asked if he had spoken to Maguire about his current situation, Southgate said, “I didn’t feel the need to talk to him any different than the other players.

“I’m trying to take them all one by one, this time it’s a bit more complicated because we have 28 so I’m going there!

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

But he’s focused on training well and getting back into the team every day.”

All of Maguire’s 46 matches have come under Southgate, where England excelled as they rushed to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and last year’s European Championship final.

“I think you should always retract your decision and we think he’s an important player,” Southgate said ahead of Friday’s Nations League game against Euro 2020 foes Italy.

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

(PA Archive)

“If we thought there were experienced players ready to play at a level above him, it would be a different assessment and in some positions it would be a different level of competition as such.

“He’s our most dominant airstop. He and John (Stones) are really incredible with the ball – the amount of pressure they’ve taken for the team in tournaments we’ve played because we don’t always have that midfield center player who can push the game forward.

“It means there’s a lot more pressure on our defenders to use the ball well, and these two are just as good at doing it as anyone else in world football.”