GARETH SOUTHGATE is willing to put his reputation on the line for Harry Maguire.
Defiant England boss Southgate and captain Harry Kane backed the disgraced Manchester United captain, who has not started in the Premier League since the 4-0 humiliation at Brentford on August 13.
Maguire is set to take on Italy in the Nations League on Friday, with the Three Lions needing a win to avoid relegation to League B, which could affect the team’s seeding for Euro 2024 qualifying.
Asked if he was showing too much faith in Maguire, Southgate said: “Whatever reputation I have, I put it there.
“You always have to trust his judgment and we think he’s an important player.
“If we thought there were experienced players willing to come 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 that way.
“He is our most dominant central defender in the air.
“He and John Stones are incredible with the ball – how much pressure they’ve taken for the team in tournaments we’ve played because we don’t always have that midfielder who can move the game forward.
“It means our centre-backs have a lot more pressure to use the ball well and these two are as good at it as anyone in world football.”
Since hitting Brentford, Maguire, 28, has played just 101 minutes under new United boss Erik ten Hag, with an under-appearance in the 3-1 home win over Arsenal and two games in the Europa League.
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Southgate added: “Look, it’s clearly not an ideal situation. You want your best players to play regularly so that they are healthy physically and mentally.
“But he is an important player for us. I think it’s important to support our best players.
“I didn’t feel the need to speak to him any differently than I did to the other players. I try to speak to everyone individually.
“It was a bit more complicated this time because we have 28 players, so I’ll get there.”
England skipper Kane also backed Maguire, who helped his country reach the World Cup semi-finals in Russia four years ago.
The Spurs forward added: “There has been some unfair criticism.
“Harry has been incredible in an England shirt for a long time, since he was at the World Cup in 2018.
“Obviously he would be the first to admit his club form wasn’t as good as he would like, but that doesn’t take away from what a great player he is.
“He’s at a stage where he has to fight his way back into the Man Utd team and knowing him – and I’m doing that very well – he’s going to work very hard to capitalize on those games or whenever next time he comes has an opportunity to prove he should be in the starting XI and that’s up to him.”
Jordan Henderson did not practice yesterday and will not be at the San Siro tonight.
Jude Bellingham will start in midfield alongside Declan Rice, while Kalvin Phillips is injured.
England also meet Germany at Wembley Stadium on Monday. Southgate added: “These are two important games.”
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6283869/gareth-southgate-england-reputation-harry-maguire/ Southgate says Maguire is one of the best ball-playing defenders in the WORLD as the England boss “puts reputation on the line” for the star.