Gareth Southgate has justified Harry Maguire’s inclusion in England’s team for this month’s friendlies, claiming that the defender “can play at the highest level.”
The Manchester United captain, 29, has been chastised for his club performances this season, with some doubting whether he deserved to be named in England’s team for the upcoming matches against Switzerland and the Ivory Coast.
Maguire, who played a key role in England’s 2018 World Cup semi-final and Euro 2020 final campaigns, might make his Wembley debut against the Ivory Coast on Tuesday night, after being an unused substitute in Saturday’s win over Switzerland.
Because of John Stones’ injury, which has forced him to return to Manchester City, Maguire is more likely to start on Tuesday.
“He has got us to a World Cup semi-final and a European Championship final, so there’s no doubt he’s more than capable of playing at the greatest level,” Southgate said when asked if Maguire is still one of England’s best players.
“In the autumn, he was fantastic for us. Because the club [Manchester United] is going through a difficult period for a variety of reasons, that doesn’t mean that players can be awful for a couple of years and still find their way in, and sometimes it relies on the positional competition.
“We’ve clearly had some offensive players out who haven’t been in good form, but those players have direct, experienced replacements, so it’s a difficult decision.”
“In terms of selection, it’s always a tricky issue because we’ve got players who we know have done well in an England shirt,” Gareth Southgate explained.
“There has to be some scrutiny on how people play with their clubs because that has to be a factor, and then who is the opponent and who is best-suited to play against the opponent.”
“It’s a tough issue, and I’m sure everyone has an opinion on who we should and shouldn’t pick.” To give ourselves the best opportunity of victory, we need the best players conceivable performing at their highest levels.”
Luke Shaw, Maguire’s United teammate, is also having a terrible season at Old Trafford.
However, following his equalizing goal in England’s 2-1 triumph against Switzerland over the weekend, the 26-year-old said that feeling “wanted” is a key in his better form.
“I hope we have an environment where all of the players feel they can be the best version of themselves, and a lot of that is due to the environment they’ve built,” Southgate said when asked about Shaw’s comments.
“We’ve got wonderful characters – I’m looking at the new players and the older ones are all sitting with them at mealtimes, making them feel relaxed, at ease, and then there’s clarity on what’s required of you on the pitch.” They are, in my opinion, the things that must be accomplished in order for people to function at their best.”