Roy Keane reckons Harry Maguire is in serious danger of losing his place in the England defence – with one man now having usurped him in Gareth Southgate’s thinking.
After a two-year hiatus from the international stage, England opted to recall John Stones for Thursday’s clash with San Marino. The Manchester City star is in the form of his life this season, with Stones addressing what has changed for him.
The 26-year-old was untroubled, as you’d expect, against San Marino. But Keane, speaking to ITV, reckons his maturity this season has seen him evolve as a player.
And the fiery Irishman reckons it is Harry Maguire, whose place looks to be most on the line.
“Stones has matured. He’s cut out mistakes and scored a couple of goals,” Keane said.
“Gareth wants him to play out from the back. He lost his confidence, but he’s bounced back and matured. I guess he took his eye off the ball and lost focus.
“He could be a big asset for England. His form would suggest [he’s ahead of Maguire] with the form he’s in.
“If Gareth plays a back three, Stones would be one of the main guys for that as he’s comfortable in possession.”
Nick Pope set for run in side
Nick Pope is set to be given more chances to stake his claim as England’s first-choice goalkeeper ahead of the European Championships.
Jordan Pickford has been established as Southgate’s number one for some time but has missed out on the ongoing international triple-header with an abdominal injury.
That left both Pope and Dean Henderson vying for the gloves for the qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland.
But with Pope starting against San Marino, Southgate is set to play him in the next two World Cup qualifiers.
“Nick was always going to play the next games anyway,” Southgate said.
“He has been really patient for his opportunity. He’s performed consistently at a high level every week for his club and has been with us for a very long time and has been waiting for this moment.
“He is a very calm character and I really like his personality. We obviously knew he was not going to be overworked. But I am sure that will be different in the next games.”