England manager Gareth Southgate has once again leapt to the defence of Harry Maguire after the defender came in for more criticism following Tuesday’s 3-1 win at Scotland.
The Three Lions were cruising at 2-0 during the friendly to mark the 150th anniversary of football’s oldest rivalry before Maguire came off the bench to score an own goal in the second half.
The centre-back dangled out a leg to divert Andy Robertson’s cross beyond Aaron Ramsdale, who had already committed to trying to stop the ball reaching Scotland striker Lyndon Dykes. England would go on to ice the game through a late Harry Kane strike.
Maguire’s continued inclusion in the England squad has been questioned given he lost his place in the Manchester United starting lineup last season, making just 16 Premier League appearances. He was then stripped of the captain’s armband during the summer, with Bruno Fernandes taking on the role.
A string of high-profile errors has also contributed to the feeling of incredulity over Maguire’s standing in Southgate’s setup, but speaking to the press on Tuesday evening, the England boss dismissed these concerns and instead defended the 30-year-old again.
“I’ve never known a player treated the way he is,” Southgate said. “He’s been an absolute stalwart for us in the second most successful England team for decades – he’s been an absolutely key part of that.
“I’ve talked about the importance of our senior players, he’s been crucial among that.
“Every time he goes on the field, the resilience he shows is absolutely incredible. He’s a top player and we’re all with him and our fans were brilliant with him.”
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When asked about home supporters ironically cheering Maguire‘s introduction to the match, Southgate added: “From a Scotland fans’ point of view I get it. I have absolutely no complaints with what they did.
“But it’s a consequence of ridiculous treatment of him for a long period of time.
“It’s a joke. Not by the Scottish fans but by our own commentators, pundits or whatever it is. They’ve created something that’s beyond anything I have ever seen.
“I think our fans recognised, ‘OK there might be a bit of heat from our own supporters but we’re not going to have others getting into him’.”
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