Gareth Southgate’s decision to persistently select Harry Maguire for the England national team, despite his lack of playing time at Manchester United, has raised concerns about squad harmony as Euro 2024 approaches. These concerns were voiced by former England international Lee Sharpe, who highlighted the potential risks of this decision.
Maguire’s Premier League start in the 2-1 win against Brentford was primarily due to an injury crisis at his club. Furthermore, during Erik ten Hag’s initial campaign as Manchester United’s manager, Maguire found himself relegated to a reserved role, falling to fourth place in the center-back pecking order behind Victor Lindelof.
However, Southgate has consistently shown confidence in the 30-year-old, frequently pairing him with John Stones as England’s first-choice defensive duo. While Maguire’s struggles at United have not significantly impacted his performance for the national team, concerns are growing regarding his selection over other defenders who are in better form at their respective clubs.
Sharpe emphasized that Southgate must exercise caution when picking players who are not getting regular playing time. This practice may set a precedent for other players who are not starting regularly and could lead to unrest among squad members.
With England now boasting strong players in every position, it is increasingly challenging for individuals to maintain their places in Gareth Southgate’s squad without consistent playing time. Sharpe noted that numerous other talented players are playing regularly and performing exceptionally well.
On the flip side, there is recognition of Harry Maguire’s experience as a center-back, having consistently performed well for the national team. However, his lack of regular play at the club level could hinder his match fitness and sharpness, which are crucial for participating in a major tournament.
Sharpe highlighted that even if a player feels mentally prepared, match fitness and the ability to read the game effectively can only be acquired through regular playing time at the highest level of competition, such as the Premier League.
Ultimately, this situation presents a challenge for both Southgate and Maguire. Sharpe also suggested that a move to a club like West Ham could have been a beneficial option for Maguire to regain his form.
While Southgate temporarily benched Maguire for a friendly against Australia, the former Manchester United captain is expected to return to the starting lineup when Italy visits for a Euro 2024 qualifying match, further fueling the debate on his role within the England squad.