Maguire talks up United teammates Jones and de Gea

Harry Maguire made his return to the Manchester United starting lineup in the 1-0 win over West Ham on Saturday.

It was the England international’s first start of 2022, and he produced a confident performance to help United keep a clean sheet en route to a vital win.

Speaking to the club website, Maguire has offered praise for two of his teammates, who are the only remaining members of Sir Alex Ferguson’s 2013 title-winning squad still at the club – Phil Jones and David de Gea.

Jones came in for the injured Maguire in the 1-0 defeat at home to Wolves earlier this month, and was the best outfield player on the pitch in a red shirt.

Meanwhile, de Gea has been arguably United’s player of the season so far, and ranks second across Europe for saves made this term.

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“We have all seen Phil coming back from two years’ out and he was outstanding when he played. It made me really happy to see him step back out on the pitch. 

“I am good mates with Phil and I have spent a lot of time with him, when he has been injured in the tough, dark days that he has had,” he said.

“When he was back on the pitch, I was obviously in the stand, injured, for that game, but the way he performed, he was the best player for us that day and I am really pleased to see him back out there, because he has worked so hard over these last couple of years. He is now back fit, ready to go and ready to play games.”

On de Gea, he added: “‘He has been amazing. I think a lot of people this year haven’t had the most consistent of seasons, we’ve been up and down a lot, as outfielders and as a team performance.’

“But for sure David has been there, week in week out, producing big saves for us in big moments. It doesn’t surprise me because David is David, he’s a world class goalkeeper.”

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Jones’ comeback was a wonderful moment, with United fans singing his name and the Englishman performing better than anyone could have expected after so long out.

The frustration is that he has not been able to get another minute on the pitch after that.

He was injured for the subsequent FA Cup game against Aston Villa and has been an unused substitute in matches after that.

With Eric Bailly returning from the Africa Cup of Nations, the competition for places at centre-half will only intensify, with Maguire back too.

Jones may hope that Ralf Rangnick makes changes next time out, in the fourth round against Championship outfit Middlesbrough.

De Gea started between the sticks in the previous round, despite Dean Henderson’s lack of gametime, and saved preserved United’s clean sheet at times, continuing his hugely impressive season.

It is easy to run out of superlatives for de Gea, who is seemingly being described as one of the best goalkeepers in the world on a weekly basis right now.

That is an impressive recovery of a different type to Jones, because the Spanish international had been written off as past his best in recent seasons, but has silenced the doubters this term.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.