Southgate backs Maguire and explains absences

Thursday 17 March 2022 15:15

Gareth Southgate has clarified why Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho have not been included in the latest England squad – and why Harry Maguire has been selected.

The defender's form has been a media talking point during recent weeks, following some disappointing United results. 
But the Three Lions boss said he never even considered omitting Maguire, due to the centre-back's huge contribution to England's progress over the last four or five years.

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Marcus has used Twitter to clarify an incident that occurred after the Atletico Madrid game.

At the press conference where the 25-man squad was announced, Southgate responded to several questions about the United players eligible for selection.
“I don’t think it ever crossed our minds not to select Harry Maguire for this squad,” explained the former England defender. 
“He’s been a key part of the starting XI that got us to a World Cup semi-final and a Euros final. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s one of our best centre-backs.”
Asked about Rashford, Southgate acknowledged that our no.10 has been struggling to find his best form since returning from injury in autumn.
“It's a difficult time for him,” he admitted. “He's clearly not at his best.
“We know a lot about Marcus anyway; we know what he can bring to us, and hopefully he can rediscover that form we know he's capable of.”

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As for Sancho, Southgate said that the performances of other English forwards meant there were few openings available.
“With the other attacking players in the squad, they are slightly ahead of him in our feeling,” began the 51-year-old.
“You can see the names there: Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe, Jack Grealish... if you look at the seasons they've had [it is hard to leave them out]. 
“Jadon, without a doubt over the last few weeks, his performances have improved with Manchester United, but it's an area of the field where we've got really big competition for places. And at the moment, we've got those guys slightly ahead.”

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Sancho is United's current Player of the Month, thanks to several scintillating performances since the turn of the year.

However, there is still time for both he and Marcus to push for selection ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar later this year.
Meanwhile, Maguire will be joined in the England squad by fellow United defender Luke Shaw, with the pair both hoping to feature in the upcoming friendlies against Switzerland (Saturday 26 March, 17:30 GMT) and Ivory Coast (Tuesday 29 March, 19:45 BST).