SOCCER

Taking unfit Maguire to Euros makes no sense, it’ll be a distraction – Ferdinand


The Red Devils skipper is far from full fitness and it has been said that his inclusion in the squad could prove costly

Rio Ferdinand has criticised Gareth Southgate’s decision to take Harry Maguire to the European Championships, with the former Manchester United man of the opinion that the narrative around the defender’s lack of fitness will become a hindrance for the squad.

Maguire has been nursing ankle ligament damage sustained in United’s 3-1 win at Aston Villa in early May and was forced to sit out the club’s last few Premier League matches, as well as the Europa League final in which the Red Devils lost to Villarreal.

Southgate’s finalised squad has Ferdinand sure that the Three Lions will be primarily lining up with three centre-backs, but feels that the national team boss should have left the Man Utd skipper at home to fully recover and given others a chance to shine.

What was said?

On Maguire’s inclusion, Ferdinand said on the FIVE podcast: “[Southgate] needed another centre-back. This [squad] tells me that he’s going to play three at the back, 100 per cent, definitely playing three at the back.

“Kyle Walker can play right-centre-half, he can play Reece James at right-centre-half, Luke Shaw [can play] left-centre-half, Tyrone Mings, [John] Stones.

“Maguire’s not even fit, I wouldn’t even take Maguire. You’re not fit, you’re not going to be fit for ages. It doesn’t make sense.

“I’ve been in squads where you take players that ain’t fully fit and they don’t normally come and perform, I’m sorry. It happened with Becks (David Beckham), it happened with Wazza (Wayne Rooney)… they’re not themselves.

“Harry Maguire, as good as he is, he isn’t a Becks and he certainly ain’t a Rooney. I just think you shouldn’t take someone who isn’t 100% fit like that. I don’t care who you are, it’s hard to come back and get into a rhythm.

“That narrative ends up taking over the squad and it becomes the conversation and a distraction. Do we really need that? It’s pointless I think. Hopefully he proves me wrong, I would love it if he did.”

Southgate defiant

Naturally there has been plenty of reaction to Southgate’s choices, most notably his decision to include four natural right-backs.

The manager, however, insists that he has made the right calls, telling the press: “We went through this last week. We have four players that play sometimes at right-back for their clubs.

“Basically they are in the best 26 footballers and that is why they are in the squad. If I could have picked five or six right-backs I would have done.”

What’s next for England?

Southgate’s charges will take in friendly clashes against Austria and Romania on June 2 and June 6 respectively before the Euros kick off later this month.

England will then face off against Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic in Group D.

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