Harry Maguire is feeling his best again after a difficult start to the season for club and country, with the England defender excited about the progress Gareth Southgate’s side have made ahead of the Euros.
Five years after reaching the final in France as a fan of the Three Lions, the Manchester United skipper, 28 heads to this summer’s revamped tournament as an established member of the team.
Maguire played in England’s race to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and became the world’s most expensive defender by joining United from Leicester the following year, which led to increased scrutiny on and off the pitch.
A high-profile Greek court case in a truncated pre-season appeared to have an impact on the defender’s performance, with the club’s poor form continuing on the international stage when Maguire was sent off in Denmark’s 1-0 defeat in October.
But Maguire has rallied impressively and the United skipper believes a strong mentality has been key to bouncing back.
“I’m really happy with my own form,” he said. “Obviously, staying injury free has been a big plus for me this year. I’m happy with my game right now.
“I think in a football career you have so many ups, but you also have a lot of downs.
“It’s the way you come back, it’s the way you fight and put your head, work hard and get your confidence back.
“I felt like I had done that this year, which I’m really happy with (around).
“But it can be a tough game sometimes. When you lose games it’s not pleasant and when you concede goals, especially as a defender and playing for Manchester United, you are under surveillance.
“You have to work hard, believe in yourself and keep working hard on the training ground. I think that’s what builds confidence. “
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Maguire back for clash against Albania
Maguire rested for Thursday’s 5-0 cake against San Marino and is set to start in Albania on Sunday as World Cup qualification continues.
Memories of racing to the 2018 semi-finals of this competition remain fresh and Maguire believes England has started since then.
“I think in the three years we’ve developed,” Maguire said.
“We worked more tactically and experienced the big tournament, the ups and downs, and obviously losing the semi-final.
“We have to take this experience in the tournaments to come. I’m sure this will help us.
“Yes, of course, as a player and as a team and individually and tactically, three years is a long time to develop and, yes, I’m sure we have developed in a positive way.
“I think (the new faces), above all, brought a lot of talent.
“They are all technically good players. They all play very well for their clubs and if you don’t play well in your club game then you don’t have the option to play for your country.
“You play week after week for the opportunity to come and represent your country and everyone involved in the team deserves it.
“It sure brings a lot of talent to the group, a lot of competition for places, and you know you can’t settle down. You always have to push for more. “