Southgate included Harry Maguire in his 26-man England squad for the Euros despite his recent fitness issues.
England head coach Gareth Southgate raised few eyebrows with his squad selection for Euro 2020. Four right-backs were picked in the squad with Trent Alexander-Arnold’s inclusion surprised many, while in-form Jesse Lingard missed out. The other surprise inclusions were that of Manchester United and Liverpool skippers Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson respectively. Maguire missed the end of the season for United, including the Europa League final defeat to Villarreal with ankle ligament damage. Meanwhile, Henderson has not played since February after undergoing groin surgery.
Reacting to the Euros team, former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has criticised Southgate for picking Maguire in his squad. Ferdinand told his FIVE YouTube channel, “England needed another centre back. This tells me he [Southgate] is definitely playing three at the back. Harry Maguire’s not even fit, I wouldn’t even take Maguire. You’re not fit, you’re not going to be fit for ages, it doesn’t make sense.”
“I’ve been in squads with players who haven’t been fit and they don’t perform when they’re not themselves. It happened with Becks [David Beckham] and Wazza [Wayne Rooney]. As good as Maguire is, he’s not a Becks or a Wazza. I don’t think you should take someone who’s not 100% fit. It’s hard to come back and get into a rhythm. That narrative ends up taking over the squad and it becomes the conversation and a distraction. Do we really need that? It’s pointless I think. Hopefully he proves me wrong, I would love it if he did.”
Meanwhile, Southgate admitted that it is going to be “tight” for Maguire to be ready for the Croatia match on June 13. “It is going to be tight for the first game, there is no question. He is such a good player and because we had the additional size of squad, we wanted to take that opportunity to bring him into the squad,” he added.
“We know exactly where he’s at,” Southgate said on Maguire’s fitness. “Our medical team have been over with him in Manchester. He’s not travelled to us yet because of quarantine issues coming back from Poland. That was a bit more complicated. He’s got a bit to do, like Jordan Henderson, to be available.”
Southgate has called both the players as “fantastic characters” and explained why they were included in the squad. “But we feel the possibility that they can play a part, and the fact they’re such fantastic characters to have around the group…” he elaborated.
“Hendo’s leadership and presence is already having an effect on other people, especially the younger ones in the group, but all of the others as well. Given we’re able to pick 26, we felt the opportunity to have those two with us was straightforward.”