Harry Maguire to start for England against Italy as Gareth Southgate and Harry Kane throw support behind much-maligned Manchester United defender

Harry Maguire is set to be handed a spot 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 difficult test against their Euro 2020 final conquerors with the hope of getting sweet revenge, a contest that will be live on talkSPORT from 7pm.

Maguire is set to be handed a start against Italy at the San Siro

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Maguire is set to be handed a start against Italy at the San Siro

It’s been a frustrating time for Maguire who has found himself dropped to the United bench in recent weeks

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It’s been a frustrating time for Maguire who has found himself dropped to the United bench in recent weeks

For Maguire, it’s clear that there’s a point to prove.

The 29-year-old has attracted criticism over recent months for his lack of form for Manchester United, leading to him losing his spot in Erik ten Hag’s side after they conceded six goals in two games against Brighton and Brentford.

Maguire is looking for a road back into United and England’s plans, and according to skipper Harry Kane, there’s no doubting that 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 that a lot of that criticism has probably been a bit unfair.

“With Manchester United not doing so well he’s taken the brunt of that a lot, but also he knows that his performances for Manchester United probably haven’t been as good as he would want and he knows that he wants to try and improve that.

“From an England point of view I think he’s been fantastic for us for many years going back to the 2018 World Cup. He’s been a huge part of getting to that semi-final and getting to the final in the Euros.

“He’s a good lad, he’s got a strong head on his shoulders and he knows he’ll just have to keep working hard to fight his way back into the team at Manchester United and whenever he’s here, whether he’s playing or not, he’ll do his best to make an impact on the team.”

Maguire and Kane have been two of Southgate’s most trusted players

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Maguire and Kane have been two of Southgate’s most trusted players

Maguire and Kane have been through a lot together, including reaching the World Cup semis in 2018 and the final of Euro 2020

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Maguire and Kane have been through a lot together, including reaching the World Cup semis in 2018 and the final of Euro 2020

Southgate was also quizzed on Maguire’s situation and said that he hasn’t spoken to the player any differently than he has with any other member of the squad.

Southgate told talkSPORT: “I think he knows what we think of him.

“I don’t speak with him any differently to all of the other players. I try to pick up with all of the players one to one whether off-camp or during the camp.

“We’re focusing on how we play here and how we need to prepare for the game he’s involved in discussions in exactly the same way as everybody else.

“Of course, he wants to play more but his focus is good. He knows he’s got to keep training well every day and wait for his opportunity and I’m sure that when that comes with his club he’ll take it.”

Southgate looks set to hand Maguire a chance to shine once again

GETTY

Southgate looks set to hand Maguire a chance to shine once again

Southgate added in his press conference that while it is not ideal that Maguire is not getting game time at United, he retains full faith in the player.

Asked if he is showing too much faith in Maguire, Southgate replied “Whatever reputation I have, I’m putting it on there.

“You always have to back your judgement and we feel he is an important player.

“If we thought there were experienced players ready to step in and play at a level above him there would be a different consideration and in some positions there would be a different level of competition in that way.

“He is our most dominant aerial centre-back. Him and John (Stones) are incredible with the ball really – the amount of pressure they have taken for the team in tournaments we have played because we don’t always have that midfield pivot player who can progress the game.

“It means there is a huge amount more pressure on our centre-backs to use the ball well and those two are as good as any in world football at doing that.”

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