Gareth Southgate praises 'incredible' Harry Maguire ahead of 50th England cap

England manager Gareth Southgate was asked about Manchester United captain Harry Maguire ahead of his 50th international cap tonight.

The Athletic report that Southgate is set to name an unchanged team when the Three Lions face the United States at the World Cup tonight.

That means Maguire is set to start, despite coming off in the second half of Monday’s 6-2 win over Iran with illness, which would wrack up a half-century of England games.

Southgate has always kept faith with Maguire despite losses of form and fitness at United and spoke about the centre-half at his pre-match press conference.

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Southgate on Maguire

“It’s not his importance to me, it’s his importance to England,” said Southgate, when asked about how vital Maguire has been for him.

“We wanted to build our team on having the capability to play from the back and Harry and John Stones, who have played the majority of the matches across the last five years have provided that incredible platform to build from.

“We won’t appreciate what stability that has given us in possession until they’re not there. That’s the start point and then they defend well.

“It’s great for Harry to get his 50th cap. It’s well deserved. He’s been a huge part of us getting to two huge tournament performances and we want this to be the third.”

Maguire should have won a penalty within minutes of England’s opening game but for some reason, VAR and the referee did not give it.

He also hit the crossbar and provided an assist for Bukayo Saka’s goal, underlining his aerial threat, which seems to be more potent for England than it is for United.

Maguire did lose his man for Iran’s first goal, but it seemed he was struggling with the effects of the illness at the time, and otherwise, he had a good game.

He will hope to take some confidence from that match, ahead of two clashes with historic rivals for England to round off the group stage, and then potentially tougher tests to come in the knockouts.

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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.