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Gareth Southgate’s endorsement puts Harry Maguire in line to start for England against Iran

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Stuart Pearce hits back at Harry Maguire
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Harry Maguire is very much in contention to start England’s first World Cup game against Iran on Monday, with Gareth Southgate’s trust in the defender not waning.

Maguire’s playing time this season has been very limited, due to both injury and a lack of form, and he has made just four Premier League appearances for Manchester United, only three of which were in the starting XI.

He has played four more times in the Europa League and remained in the England team for their last outings, starting against Italy and Germany in late September.

Southgate showed great loyalty to the centre-back by picking him in those two games and will likely prove his love for Maguire once more in Qatar.

The Times reports that the 29-year-old is ‘in line’ to start against Iran on Monday, with Southgate still considering him a key player and receiving his support and backing throughout his difficult time with Manchester United this season.

There is much debate over whether Southgate will play with three central defenders or a back four in Qatar, or chop and change between the two depending on opposition.

The England boss has also taken Eric Dier, John Stones, Ben White and Conor Coady as centre-back options, while Kyle Walker could also play on the right of three central defenders.

Stone and Maguire have been integral to England’s success under Southgate, making up part of the defence at the World Cup in 2018 and European Championships last season and Stones feels they will be as strong as ever this winter.

‘When I look at Harry, I see a partner. Through all our experiences he’s had my back and I’ve had his,’ Stones said.

‘We’ve had so many games together, we’ve made a bond and a partnership together. We know what the other person is going to do and how we work best together. It clicks.

‘Whatever team or whatever system Gareth decides, if it’s me and Harry we will use those bonds again.

‘They are too strong to be broken by game time, form, whatever it is. That kind of goes out the window when these moments hit.’


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