England manager Gareth Southgate said he is willing to put his reputation on the line to back Manchester United defender Harry Maguire but his place in the squad will become complicated if he continues to sit out games at club level.
Maguire, who helped England reach the Euro 2020 last year, has not started Manchester United’s last four Premier League games. United have won four straight games in the league since Maguire’s last domestic start — a 4-0 defeat at Brentford.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, more (US)
“Clearly, it’s not an ideal situation [with Maguire.] We’re only a few weeks on from preseason so, physically, if they’ve had a few 90 minutes, that’s fine,” Southgate told reporters ahead of England’s Nations League clash against Italy.
“Another seven to eight weeks, that does start to become more complicated. But he is an important player for us and it’s important to back our best players. Whatever reputation I have, I’m putting it on there.”
England are on the brink of relegation to League B after picking up two points from their first four games, including two shock defeats by Hungary.
They play Italy in Milan later on Friday and host Germany at Wembley on Sept. 26 as they continue their preparations for the World Cup in Qatar.