Harry Maguire has my full support, says England boss Gareth Southgate

Harry Maguire is sent off against Denmark
Harry Maguire is the third player to be sent off for the England men’s team at Wembley – after Paul Scholes (versus Sweden in June 1999) and Steven Gerrard (versus Ukraine in September 2012)

England boss Gareth Southgate says Harry Maguire has his “full support” despite the Manchester United captain’s poor display and sending off in the 1-0 Nations League defeat by Denmark.

Maguire was booked early on before being shown a second yellow after 31 minutes when he fouled Kasper Dolberg.

The defender has struggled for form since his arrest in Greece in August.

“He’s having a difficult period and in these periods you learn a lot about yourself,” said Southgate.

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“You learn who’s there for you in those difficult times. He’ll come through it, he’ll be a better player and a stronger man for it.

“To go down to 10 men is costly for the team, but we fully back him, we fully support him.”

Former Premier League striker Chris Sutton blamed Maguire’s sending off for England’s defeat and said the 27-year-old will need to “show real character” to rediscover his best form.

“Harry Maguire has had a horrible, horrible start to the season,” Sutton said. “I really feel for him – his confidence is at such a low ebb.

“But we can’t defend Maguire because it was brainless after the first yellow card. The reason they lost the game was because Maguire had a couple of mad moments.

“Maguire’s confidence is just shot to bits at the moment and it’s horrible to see because I do think he’s a really talented footballer and a good footballer but this season he has been woeful and he’s going to have to show real character to come back.”

  • Maguire sent off as England lose
  • Relive England’s defeat by Denmark

‘James was outstanding’

Reece James
Reece James, centre, impressed on his full debut, despite his red card after full time

Christian Eriksen scored what proved to be the winner from the penalty spot three minutes after Maguire’s sending off.

A disappointing night at Wembley was complete when Reece James, making his competitive debut, was shown a red card after the final whistle for confronting referee Jesus Gil Manzano.

Prior to that, James had been England’s best player in the game, with the 20-year-old Chelsea full-back solid in defence and a real threat in attack.

“The sending off at the end I’m told was for dissent, so that’s obviously something, as a young player, he has to recognise is not acceptable,” Southgate added.

“I thought his individual performance was outstanding with and without the ball. In the opening half an hour, he and his combinations with Mason [Mount], Kyle [Walker] and the midfield players really opened them up.”

‘I was very proud of the performance’

The defeat ended a run of nine successive home wins for England, while Denmark, celebrated their first victory over the Three Lions at Wembley since 1983.

The result meant England dropped to third in Group A2, behind Denmark on goal difference, while Belgium are two points clear at the top.

Despite the defeat, Southgate said he was pleased with how his side played.

“I was very proud of the performance,” he said.

“I thought we were excellent with 11 men. We showed resilience and showed a great example of how to play with 10 pragmatically, and when to press.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the boys in the past 10 days; they are learning and improving. We’ve had any number of changes to our preparation and showed resilience.”

‘With 10 you’ve got to do such a shift’

Southgate’s decision not to bring on Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish drew some criticism, with Sutton saying on BBC Radio 5 Live that choosing to leave him on the bench when England were chasing an equaliser was “an odd one”.

Grealish put in a man-of-the-match performance against Wales last week but has been an unused substitute in England’s past two games.

“We had to go with speed in the wide areas and athleticism in the wide areas, because with 10 you’ve got to do such a shift – Mason Mount and Marcus Rashford did that really well,” Southgate said.

“They defended well and gave us a threat and Mason nearly scored with the header. The red card threw a lot of plans out of the box, unfortunately.”

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