Southgate aiming to bring Maguire back into England set-up


London (AFP) – Gareth Southgate plans to bring Harry Maguire back into the England set-up next month after withdrawing the defender from the squad following his conviction in a Greek court.

Manchester United captain Maguire was last month found guilty on a range of charges, including assaulting a police officer, days after an alleged incident on the island of Mykonos.

The 27-year-old, who said he feared for his life during his arrest, maintains his innocence and has lodged an appeal.

United said the appeal “extinguishes” the court verdict and nullifies the conviction.

Maguire, who became the world’s most expensive defender when he made his £80 million ($105 million) switch from Leicester to United last year, will not be involved in England’s Nations League double-header against Iceland and Denmark.

England boss Southgate, whose team face Iceland in Reykjavik on Saturday, removed Maguire from the squad after he was given a suspended prison sentence of 21 months.

Asked on Friday if he had been in contact with Maguire and whether he would come back into his thinking in October, Southgate told reporters at his pre-match press conference: “Yes and yes.

“We’ve been in touch right the way through the last two-and-a-half weeks.

“It’s been clearly a really difficult period for him and I think the last few days have been very important for him to be able to relax, get away from all the attention and mentally get a rest.”

Southgate was asked about the chances of Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden and Manchester United striker Mason Greenwood facing Iceland.

Although he did not offer any hints about selection, he said he would have no qualms about playing any of the youngsters in his squad and was encouraged by his players’ fitness.

“Everything we’ve seen on the training pitch, we’d have no hesitation in starting any of the players that have been with us,” he said.

“The young players coming in have no fear. They adapt very quickly, they add to the level of training and the competition and we’ve really enjoyed the week.

“It is great to be back on the football pitch, that’s for sure.”

England captain Harry Kane has been impressed by Greenwood during training.

“Mason has been great since the first training session we had. You can tell he is full of confidence as a player, not afraid to shoot, not afraid to take players on and that is exactly what we want,” Kane said.

“Looking at him in the short time that we’ve spent together, it’s been all different types of finishing.

“I think that shows the real complete goalscorer when you can score in any situation.”

Asked about his memories of England’s embarrassing Euro 2016 last 16 defeat against Iceland, Kane admitted it had been a chastening experience.

“It is definitely one of the toughest nights I have had in an England shirt but it is a game I definitely learned from,” he said.

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