World Cup 2018: Harry Maguire throws support behind Gareth Southgate after team selection gamble

Southgate made eight changes to his team, with England flopping to a 1-0 defeat that sets them up for a last-16 clash against a dangerous Colombia side

Miguel Delaney
Chief Football Writer
Friday 29 June 2018 18:57
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World Cup 2018: England fans in Russia give their verdict on Belgium loss

Harry Maguire has thrown his support behind Gareth Southgate’s decision to play England’s second team in the defeat by Belgium, arguing it means the squad’s reserves won’t be unprepared should they be called upon in the later stages of the World Cup.

Southgate made eight changes to his team, with England flopping to a 1-0 defeat that sets them up for a last-16 clash against a dangerous Colombia side. That has brought a lot of worry over whether England should instead have gone full-gun for the win that would have resulted in a more forgiving tie with Japan – albeit with a potential quarter-final against Brazil. But Maguire says there are other positives to consider.

“The main thing was to get minutes into people’s legs because you never know, if we get injuries and you haven’t played for five or six weeks, then it becomes a problem. But it’s nice for everyone to get minutes and if they are called upon in the knockout stages then I am sure they will be ready.”

Maguire said the players supported Southgate’s decision, as he praised how the manager speaks to the squad.

“Yeah definitely. Gareth is a top manager and a man of great knowledge. Everything he has done up to now, since I’ve been in the England set-up, has been spot on. We are fully behind all of his decisions and we look forward to the knockout stages.

“He explained everything. Everything he does, he does it really well and really professional. He is a really good man manager. He fills you with confidence no matter what decision is made. We all trust him as a group and hopefully it’s the right decision in the long run.

“He’s a brave manager and he makes big decisions in big times. You can say he is brave but so is [Roberto] Martinez. He’s made the same number of changes. I think they were both probably looking at the bigger picture and know that the next game is the biggest one of them all. Hopefully it can benefit us. It’s only a good decision if we go and put in a performance in the next game and qualify for the quarter-finals.”

Maguire also confirmed that it had been planned before the game that he would come on for John Stones at half-time, and that there are no concerns about the Manchester City centre-half’s fitness.

“John has been playing the last couple of games and I think he had an ice pack on in the second half. I haven’t spoken to him but I don’t think it’s anything to worry about. I think it was planned that we would each play part of the game because we both played the full 90 minutes in the last two games. Like Gareth has done with the squad, he wanted to rotate and make sure everyone got the minutes they needed.”

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