England head coach Gareth Southgate has revealed that he respects Harry Maguire for playing while he is not “complete” in recent weeks.
Maguire was quickly traced back to Manchester United’s squad last month after completing just one training session on the grass after a calf injury.
Since then, his performances have been shaky, with United slipping to disappointing losses against Leicester City, Liverpool and Manchester City in the Premier League.
Despite his poor form, Southgate still selected him for England’s comprehensive 5-0 victory over Albania on Friday, with Maguire controversially choosing a fingers-in-the-ears celebration after scoring the team’s opening goal.
Roy Keane described his actions as embarrassing, but his national team leader defended him after the match. Since then, he has doubled his support for the United captain during an interview with BBC Radio 5Live.
“He has been fantastic with us, helping us take a World Cup semi-final and a European final, and he was part of the tournament team this summer,” said Southgate.
“He’s probably suffered in recent weeks because he’s been brave enough to get out and not play in full shape. You have characters who are willing to do that, to play when they’re not 100%.
“You know that you will be judged as a full fit player once you cross that line.
“Others do not choose to do it, they choose to wait until they are 100% and only play when they feel good.
“They sometimes avoid criticism. So for me, he has risen in my appreciation, for how he has put himself in the firing line. [and] how he has felt the need to front the interviews after the matches. “
Maguire will likely retain their place in the squad when England host San Marino on Monday night. The three lions only need one point against the lowest ranked FIFA nation in the world to secure their qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
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