England boss Southgate confirms Harry Maguire return and sends Scotland warning

Gareth Southgate confessed he is facing a “difficult” decision over Harry Maguire’s involvement in England’s blockbuster Euro 2020 showdown with Scotland.

The two rivals will face off at Wembley on Friday night, with Maguire returning to training in time for the Group D clash.

The Manchester United centre-back has been suffering with an ankle injury sustained in early May but he has suggested he is ready to play through pain for his country.

Southgate may not want to risk starting Maguire against Scotland, however, instead choosing to preserve him with the knockout stage in mind.

The Three Lions boss admits he is yet to reach a verdict on whether the 28-year-old will line up in the XI or take a seat on the bench come kick-off at Wembley.

Maguire returned to training with the rest of the England squad earlier this week

“Harry will be involved tomorrow. The decision we’ve got to make is whether he is ready to start,” Southgate told a press conference on Thursday evening.

“But we are really pleased on his progress. He has trained with the team for four or five days now and had no reaction.

“Each session he is involved with, he gets more confident and I think he is on a really good path. Of course we want everybody available.

“It causes difficult decisions, but at the moment this morning we had 26 players training which is a great situation for us to be in.”

Southgate has faced criticism for naming Maguire and Jordan Henderson in his 26-man squad for the Euros despite the experienced duo arriving at the summer tournament carrying injuries.

But the 50-year-old vehemently defended the decision to pick the latter, saying: “What he brings to the group and the camp, the way he can speak to the other players, the way he trains – it’s a great advantage for us.

“He’s training consistently now, while we also have some good cover in that area of the pitch [defensive midfield]. We’ve had Jude [Bellingham] come through as well as Kalvin [Phillips].

“The drop off from not taking Hendo was such that we’d prefer to give him the opportunity to make it.”

Harry Kane was equally adamant that it was the right decision to select the England vice-captain in the squad.

He added: “He’s one of the best leaders I’ve played with. He’s won the biggest trophies. I have the highest respect for Jordan and I’m very happy he’s with us.”

Do you agree with Southgate’s decision to name Maguire and Henderson in the England squad? Comment below.

The Tottenham frontman also insisted England will not get caught up in the emotion of facing Scotland despite the historic rivalry between the two sides.

“We know what it means to represent England and play Scotland,” said Kane. “We will try and use those feelings for our advantage. But our focus is on getting it tactically right.

“We have huge respect for Scotland. They have a lot of great players, a lot of experienced players. Andy Robertson, for one, has won the Premier League, won the Champions League.”

Kane suggested Scotland were unfortunate to fall to a 2-0 defeat by Czech Republic in their opener on Monday, praising the performance of goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik.

Southgate led the Three Lions to a 1-0 victory over a star-studded Croatia team last Sunday, and victory over Scotland would all but secure progression to the last 16.

But he echoed Kane’s respectful approach towards Scott Clarke’s side and refused to get carried away with dreams of the knockout stage.

“Our focus has been on solving the tactical problems Scotland pose,” said Southgate. “Our focus has to be on performance.

“Of course, for the fans it’s a big occasion but it’s another opportunity for three points and to move closer to qualification.”

Nonetheless, Southgate could not hide his burning desire to put a smile on the face of every England supporter on Friday night.

He added: “For me, it’s always about creating those moments for our fans. There are two parts of the job as a manager: getting the best from the players and creating moments for the fans to enjoy.

“There’s not really a lot else important in terms of the outcomes of the job.”

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