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23rd Sep 2022

Gareth Southgate defends Harry Maguire following backlash over England call-up

Callum Boyle

Southgate claimed that there is an agenda against Maguire

Gareth Southgate has strongly defended Harry Maguire following his decision to name him in the starting 11 for England’s game against Italy.

Maguire has lost his place in the Manchester United team following a poor run of form but was still called up to the Three Lions squad for their Nations League fixtures against Italy and Germany.

Under Southgate, Maguire has been one of England’s best performers and an integral part of the side which has reached a World Cup semi final and final of the European Championships in consecutive tournaments and his boss has backed the defender, while claiming there is an agenda against Maguire.

He said: “Look, clearly, it’s not an ideal situation. You want your best players playing regularly so that they’re physically in a good place and mentally in a good place.

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

“He was in the team of the tournament [Euro 2020], he’s a big player for us and very important.”

Maguire starts at the back alongside Eric Dier, who makes his first international appearance since featuring in a 4-0 win against Iceland in November, 2020.

Ivan Toney meanwhile will have to wait for a debut after failing to be included in the 23-man squad for the fixture at the San Siro.

Defeat for England will see them relegated from their Nations League group in what id their penultimate game before they officially begin their World Cup campaign in Qatar.

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