Gareth Southgate defends Harry Maguire & Jordan Henderson’s England call-ups

England manager Gareth Southgate has defended his decision to call both Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson up to his latest squad.

Maguire is yet to play a single minute for Manchester United this season but, despite Southgate openly admitting he would struggle to continue calling on Maguire if he was not playing at club level, the centre-back remains in the England squad.

As for Henderson, the 33-year-old was already on the fringes of the squad before he left Liverpool for Saudi Arabian outfit Al Ettifaq, where he has tasted victory in just one of his three appearances to date.

Amid calls from some fans for the veteran pair to be dropped, Southgate has remained loyal to both Maguire and Henderson and used Thursday’s press conference to explain his decision to persevere with the duo.

“With Harry Maguire, we’ve lost a lot of experienced players in terms of caps at centre-half so we’re giving some less experienced players to come in to the squad,” Southgate began. “But unfortunately it looks like Tyrone [Mings] is out for most of the season, John Stones is out for this camp, Eric Dier hasn’t appeared in Tottenham’s squad.

“So if I’m looking at all the players we’ve given caps to in the last few years, Conor Coady is also out and playing in the Championship now. So there is a space there and I think for these two games it’s important we have some experience in that area of the pitch.

“Clearly with Harry and with Kalvin Phillips it’s far from ideal that they’re not playing football but, similarly with Kalvin, I think Declan Rice was the only English player to start at the weekend as a single pivot. Kalvin is the next best positioned to do that.”


On Henderson, Southgate added: “We’ve watched every game [from Henderson’s time in Saudi Arabia]. The key as we move forward will be intensity of the league because of the heat. As well as performance level, we need to clearly monitor the level of the league, we’re assessing it and it’s changing all the time.”

Southgate specifically defended his decision to select the former Liverpool midfielder in the face of criticism of Henderson’s choice to move to a country with a questionable human rights record.

“I think we are supportive of the LGBTQ+ community,” he said. “A large number of the team and staff have relatives or friends from the community.

“I can only talk on a personal level. I will try to be accepting of everyone’s cultures. It’s not intentional that we would let down any of our fans but these are complex issues that we’re all trying to navigate.

“We’re picking a team for football reasons. There are lots of different club ownership models. There are a lot of different players who play in countries with different religious beliefs.”


On this edition of Talking Transfers, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott Saunders is joined by Toby Cudworth and Graeme Bailey to discuss Man Utd’s links to Marc Cucurella and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Romelu Lukaku’s impending exit from Chelsea, West Ham’s attempts to revive a deal for Harry Maguire & more!

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

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