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Southgate calls Maguire critics ‘a joke’ and praises England star’s ‘balls and resilience’

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Gareth Southgate has savaged critics of Harry Maguire, issuing a furious defence of the Manchester United man’s leadership qualities.

Maguire was a second half substitute for England in a friendly away at Scotland, and scored an unfortunate own goal – which led to many of the home supporters jeering at him – in a 3-1 win.

Southgate calls Maguire critics 'a joke' and praises England star's 'balls and resilience'

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Maguire had a tough moment with the own goalCredit: Getty
Southgate calls Maguire critics 'a joke' and praises England star's 'balls and resilience'

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But was part of a winning teamCredit: Getty

Last time out in a Euro 2024 qualifier against Ukraine, Maguire played the full 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw, despite his limited minutes at club level.

Under Erik ten Hag, Maguire has lost the United captain’s armband, and has even dropped behind left back Luke Shaw in the pecking order at centre back, while 35-year-old Jonny Evans has been re-signed as cover.

Despite that, he remains a Three Lions regular, and was relied upon at Qatar 2022 where England impressed before a narrow quarter-final defeat to France.

Maguire was the subject of late summer transfer window interest from West Ham, but the move failed to come to fruition, and he looks unlikely to get many minutes at Old Trafford before the window re-opens.

Southgate calls Maguire critics 'a joke' and praises England star's 'balls and resilience'
Southgate calls Maguire critics 'a joke' and praises England star's 'balls and resilience'

Southgate will continue to rely upon the 30-year-old, though, and offered a staunch defence of one of his most trusted players when speaking to talkSPORT after the victory.

Speaking to Faye Carruthers, he said: “One of our players comes onto the field and the opposing fans react as they do. I’m fine with that, in terms of the Scotland fans. 

“But why is that created with the ridiculous comments that exist around the player? It’s a joke. 

“He’s been one of England’s most important players in a period of English football where we’ve got as close as anything in 50 years to doing well, he’s been a stalwart within that.”

Southgate calls Maguire critics 'a joke' and praises England star's 'balls and resilience'

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Maguire has had many incredible moments for England
Southgate calls Maguire critics 'a joke' and praises England star's 'balls and resilience'

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And Southgate loves his senior playersCredit: Getty
Southgate calls Maguire critics 'a joke' and praises England star's 'balls and resilience'

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Scotland fans were heard chanting his name ironically and trying to throw him off every time he touched the ballCredit: Getty

Southgate then went on to praise the England fans, who did a number of supportive chants about Maguire late in the match, for their reaction, and explained just why Maguire is so important to him.

He continued: “I think our fans were brilliant with him tonight because I think they recognise that he’s ours and we should be protecting him, not throwing him under the bus.

“The senior players in our group are so important to us and they’re so undervalued outside at times but they’re not by the players in the dressing room.

“I think he’s come and spoken to the media tonight which shows the balls that he’s got and the resilience that he’s got because he’s prepared to front up and I’ve got huge admiration for him.”

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