Maguire gives Southgate a nudge ahead of Czech Republic date
Harry Maguire is raring to return from his six-week injury lay-off and help England progress to the European Championship knockout phase as group winners.
Having kicked off Group D with a 1-0 win against World Cup semi-final foes Croatia before drawing 0-0 with oldest rivals Scotland, a partially-filled Wembley will welcome the Czech Republic on Tuesday evening.
Gareth Southgate’s men are well placed to progress and know a Wembley return in the last 16 will be be secured by beating the pool-topping Czechs, who Maguire is hoping to get his first Euro 2020 minutes against.
The Manchester United captain missed the end of the club season with the high ankle sprain sustained in early May and made the England bench for the first time against Scotland.
Southgate said Maguire would feature against Scotland, but the centre-back remained on the bench.
“I’m feeling good,” Maguire said. “Obviously (with) the ankle injury, it’s getting stronger, I’m getting more confident.
“The more sessions I do, the more games I play, I’m sure I’ll get more confidence and that’s the thing with these type of injuries.
“I think it’s just about building the confidence. It’s all stable now and I’m available and I’m ready to go.
“Any Euro match is really important to go out there and try and win the football match.
“The boys have put ourselves in a great position in the group – four points from two games – although obviously we want to win every football match so we’d like to be on six.
“But it’s still in a strong position and now it’s another big game against the Czechs and one we’re looking forward to and we go there and try and get three points.”
Maguire has spent a lot of time in recent weeks doing individual training as he pushes to get game ready.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has been in a similar boat since undergoing groin surgery in February.
The 31-year-old has only managed 45 minutes for club or country since going under the knife, but the Liverpool skipper is also pushing to be involved against the Czechs.
“I think it’s important leadership in the group,” Maguire told the Lions’ Den.
“I think we’ve got a lot of leaders in our group, a lot of captains at club level as well, which is really important to bring that experience.
“Jordan’s back to fitness, he’s been training a while and myself I’m sure we can bring lots of qualities to the group in terms of leadership off the field.
“But obviously where it matters is on the pitch and the boys have put us in a good position in the group now and we’re ready to kick on.
“I think experience and leadership is such an important part of a squad.
“Obviously it’s a 26-man squad as well we’ve got here, so it’s a big squad and lots and lots of talents, and lots of first-time tournaments for people.
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“I’m sure they’re having a great time but you only have a great time and a great tournament if you win football matches and that’s what we’re here to do.”
Tyrone Mings has kept back-to-back clean sheets alongside John Stones in Maguire’s absence, but Southgate will be tempted to put the United skipper alongside the Manchester City defender given their understanding.
“John’s had a great season at Manchester City and he’s took that into the first few games of the tournament, where he’s been excellent,” Maguire added.
“Our relationship, we grew up not far from each other, we played against each other in youth teams for Barnsley and Sheffield United.
“He’s a good friend of mine and he’s a great footballer and he’s obviously a pleasure to play alongside.”
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