Harry Maguire is set to be given a place in the starting line-up for England’s UEFA Nations League clash with Italy on Friday night.
The Three Lions travel to the San Siro for a tough test against their Euro 2020 final winners in the hope of securing sweet revenge, a contest which will be live on talkSPORT from 7pm.
For Maguire, it’s clear there’s a point to prove.
The 29-year-old has drawn criticism in recent months for his lack of form for Manchester United, which saw him lose his place in Erik ten Hag’s squad after conceding six goals in two games against Brighton and Brentford.
Maguire is looking for a path to United and England plans, and according to skipper Harry Kane there is no doubt the defender has the mentality to overcome his current situation.
Speaking to talkSPORT’s Faye Carruthers, Kane said: “I get on very well with Harry. I think a lot of those reviews have probably been a bit unfair.
“With Manchester United not doing so well, he’s suffered a lot from that, but he also knows his performances for Manchester United probably haven’t been as good as he would like and he knows he wants to try to improve that.
“From an England perspective, I think he’s been fantastic for us for many years since the 2018 World Cup. He’s been a big part of getting to that semi-final and the final. of the Euro.
“He’s a good lad, he’s got a solid head on his shoulders and he knows he’ll have to keep working hard to get back into the Manchester United team and whenever he’s here, whether he’s playing or no, he’ll do my best to make an impact on the team.
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Southgate was also asked about Maguire’s situation and said he hadn’t spoken to the player any differently than he had with any other member of the squad.
Southgate told talkSPORT: “I think he knows what we think of him.
“I don’t talk to him any differently than any other player. I try to resume with all the players one by one, whether it’s outside the camp or during the camp.
“We focus on how we play here and how we have to prepare for the game, he is involved in the discussions in exactly the same way as everyone else.
“Of course he wants to play more but his concentration is good. He knows he has to keep training well every day and waiting for his opportunity and I’m sure when it happens with his club he will take it.
Southgate added in his press conference that while it’s not ideal that Maguire won’t get playing time at United, he retains full faith in the player.
When asked if he trusted Maguire too much, Southgate replied: ‘Whatever my reputation I put it on that.
“You always have to back up your judgment and we think he’s an important player.
“If we thought there were experienced players ready to step in and play at a higher level than him, there would be a different consideration and in certain positions there would be a different level of competition that way.
“He is our most dominant aerial centre-back. He and John (Stones) are really amazing on the ball – the pressure they’ve put on the team in the tournaments we’ve played because we don’t always have that midfield pivot that can move the match.
“That means there’s a lot more pressure on our centre-backs to use the ball well and those two are as good as any football in the world at doing that.”