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Gareth Southgate sends message to Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag over Harry Maguire

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Gareth Southgate sends message to Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag over Harry Maguire

Gareth Southgate has urged Manchester United to play under-fire defender Harry Maguire to help give England ‘the best chance of winning’ the World Cup.

The Three Lions boss made the plea to United counterpart Erik ten Hag after starting Maguire in England’s matches against Italy and Germany in the past week, despite the centre-back being relegated to the bench at Old Trafford.

Maguire gave away the penalty which led to the visitors’ first goal in the remarkable 3-3 draw against Germany at Wembley on Monday night but despite the ongoing criticism aimed at him he retains the full backing of Southgate, who believes his presence is key to success this winter.

‘I know everybody says he’s important to me, he’s important to us! It’s us. It’s not me,’ insisted Southgate.

‘Why do we pick him? Because he’s one of the players who gives us the best chance of winning.

‘So really we should all be wanting a Harry Maguire that’s playing regularly and playing with confidence.

‘That applies to quite a few players but he’s the one everything lands on, which must be a tough space for him.’

Southgate bemoaned the fact he will not see his players as a group again until after the final round of Premier League matches in November, with no space in the schedule for World Cup warm-up games and just eight days between the last top-flight fixtures on November 13 and England’s Group B opener with Iran.

Southgate added: ‘This is what’s unique to us compared to any other sport internationally.

‘The rugby get eight weeks (lead-in time) just for the Six Nations. The cricketers are together all year on central contracts. This is the difference. We don’t get the four weeks we had ahead of Russia (the 2018 World Cup). But we have to adapt better than anybody else.’

The England manager ruled out a meet-up with his players, who face a gruelling calendar between now and mid-November with their clubs.

‘No, there just isn’t going to be time,’ he said. ‘They are going to have too many matches and we have to respect what they are doing with their clubs.

‘We have got a lot of analysis of the opposition. Of course we need to monitor our players. We always look to find out absolutely everything about them so we are not short of stuff to be getting on with.’

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