Gareth Southgate has backed Harry Maguire amid the continued scrutiny on the form of the Manchester United defender.
Maguire was included in the England squad for March’s international fixtures despite a disappointing season at club level, with the centre-back having been a regular target for critics after an erratic period of form.
The 29-year-old was an unused substitute during the Three Lions’ 2-1 win over Switzerland on Saturday, but is expected to be involved as England face Ivory Coast tomorrow evening.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Southgate discussed his ‘complicated’ decision to include Maguire and says the defender’s past performances for England were a factor in his selection.
“I hope we have an environment where all the players feel comfortable and can be the best version of themselves in,” Southgate said at his pre-match press conference.
“A lot of that is down to the environment they have created. We have super characters; when younger players come in, the older ones are sitting with them at meal times, helping them feel relaxed and at ease. Then there is clarity in your job, on the pitch; they are the things we have to achieve for people to perform at the best level.
“In terms of selection, we have players who have performed for England. There has to be some scrutiny on club form, because that has to be a factor, and then the opponent and who is suited to playing them. It is complicated and everyone has a view on who should play.
“We need the best players possible. Maguire was very good in the Autumn and he helped get us to a World Cup semi final and a Euro final.
“He’s more than capable of playing for us at the highest level. The club are in a difficult moment, there could be any number of reasons for that.
“That doesn’t mean players can be poor for a couple of years and still get in. It also depends on competition in those positions; we’ve obviously left some forward players out [Sancho and Rashford].