Even though Harry Maguire has started the last four league games for Manchester United from the bench, he is expected to play a major role for England.
is willing to put his reputation on the line to keep pickingHarry Maguire
. He says that theManchester United
defender, who has fallen out of favor, is still one of England's most important players.
Maguire has been on the bench for United's four straight Premier League wins. He started the team's first two losses to start the season last month. The defender has only started one of United's last five games in all competitions. That game was a 1-0
loss to Real Sociedad, and Southgate's decision to call him up for the rest ofEngland
's Nations League games has been criticized.
But before England's game with Italy at San Siro, which will be followed by Germany's visit on Monday, Southgate said that Maguire is still a key part of his plans.
"Whatever reputation I have I'm putting it on there,"
"I think you always have to back your judgement, and we feel he is an important player. 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. I haven't felt the need to speak to him any differently to the rest of the players. 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 spotlight has been on him more. But he's focused on training well every day and getting himself back in the [United] team."
Southgate said that he stuck with Maguire because he didn't have many other options. He also pointed out how well Maguire and his partner, John Stones, play with the ball.
"If we thought there were experienced players ready to step in and play at a level above, there would be a different consideration and in some positions there would be a different level of competition in that way," Southgate said. "He is our most dominant aerial centre-back. Him and John are incredible with the ball really – the amount of pressure they have taken for the team in tournaments we have played because we don't always have that midfield pivot player who can progress the game."
"It means there is a huge amount of pressure on our centre-backs to use the ball well and those two are as good as any in world football at doing that."
Only two of England's last 26 games against Hungary in June's Nations League games have ended in a loss (W18 D6).
However, the Three Lions haven't won in their last four games (D2 L2), their longest winless streak since June 2014 (five). If England loses to
in Milan, Southgate's team will be relegated from the top tier of the Nations League.
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