Harry Maguire celebrates a goal against Newcastle United.

Fitness will be key against Burnley

Manchester United defender Harry Maguire believes that the squad’s committed work during last summer’s intensive pre-season will prove crucial during Saturday’s game with Burnley.

The Reds pummelled Newcastle 4-1 at Old Trafford on Boxing Day, but have barely 48 hours before we return to action at Turf Moor – the second test in a challenging period of three games in just seven days.

But Maguire – who captained Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to that success against the Magpies – believes he and his team-mates are in excellent physical condition and able to deal with those demands.

“We're a fit bunch,” asserted the Yorkshireman, after Thursday’s victory. “The boys worked tirelessly in pre-season and this is what it's for. We're fully focused now on Saturday and that's how it should be.

Maguire: 'That's the intensity required'Video

“It's tough, there's no doubt about it. A 90-minute game in the Premier League takes a lot out of you, but it's the same for every team. There'll be a few teams out there that will probably get that extra day's rest. But Burnley have played today as well, so we've got to make sure our mentality is right going in to the game.”

Despite going behind early against Newcastle due to Matty Longstaff’s clean strike, a thunderous response – through goals from Anthony Martial (2), Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford - ensured United triumphed in Old Trafford’s final game of the decade.

The quick-fire comeback was a welcome antidote to last weekend’s defeat at Watford, and Maguire was adamant that a period of consistency was now essential if the team are to secure a top-four spot come May.

“That’s the key,” said the 26-year-old. “You've got to put performances together, put wins together. It's really important that you go on runs in this league. We haven't really found that consistency to put three, four, five wins together. It's something that we need to work on. We're a young group, we're learning, [and] there are positives to take from today but now we're focused on Saturday.”

The potential for consistency rests on keeping clean sheets, in Maguire’s opinion, and the England star acknowledges there is work to do in that regard.

“We want to get back to clean sheets; we're working hard to get clean sheets,” he stressed.

“We're not conceding many chances in many games, but it's something that we're going to work on. We're going to improve.”

Highlights: United 4 Newcastle 1Video

If clean sheets can be allied to the form of United’s forwards, Solskjaer’s team can dispose of any opposition, says our no.5.

“When they're on it, and we're on it as a team, they're a threat to anyone,” he told MUTV, after the trio had run riot and each found the net against the team from the north-east.
 
“We've got to try now to find that consistency. We're a young group, but we've been far too inconsistent this season, like I spoke about. It's good, [from] the front lads, and I wouldn't want to play against them every week. When they're in that form, they're hard to stop, so it's really important that they keep it up.”

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