Harry Maguire poised for England recall

Gareth Southgate will welcome Harry Maguire back into the England squad next month.

Manchester United's Harry Maguire.

Already the most complicated international camp of the Three Lions boss’ tenure due to the impact of Covid-19, the dilemma over the availability of the 27-year-old only added an extra layer of difficulty.

Southgate publicly backed former Sheffield United and Hull City defender Maguire when calling him up for the Nations League double-header with Iceland and Denmark, only to make a quick about-turn following the verdict of a Greek court.

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The defender was withdrawn from the squad after being handed a suspended 21-month sentence, having been found guilty of assaulting a police officer, swearing, resisting arrest and bribery during an incident in Mykonos.

Maguire maintains his innocence and has lodged an appeal with the Greek court system, with Southgate sticking by the Manchester United captain despite that decision to take him out of the squad.

“We’ve been in touch right the way through the last two and a half weeks,” the England manager said in his first press conference since then.

“This has 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 get a rest.

“Mentally get a rest because of course he had a short break anyway but then the events that happened in Greece had really dominated that.

“I think he needed that switch-off and he’ll be able to go back to his club and absolutely we’ll be looking to involve him in October.”

New boy Jack Grealish admits he feels like he is on trial with England following his late call-up.

The withdrawal of Harry Winks and, in particular, Marcus Rashford saw Southgate turn to the Aston Villa captain, who is in the senior squad for the first time since his switch from the Republic of Ireland to England was ratified in 2016.

“It’s more or less like a trial at the moment, coming in for the first time, and hopefully I can show (the manager) what I can do in training,” Grealish said.

“I’ve had Gareth as a manager before for the under-21s and loved my time with him. It’s him as a manager. I’ve been here for two days and I can see what type of manager he is.

“He’s made time for everyone, been around to everyone speaking to all the lads and staff, and I can tell it’s a very tight-knit group here.

“He wants to build on that, lads to come away with England and enjoy it and want to play for their country which I know for a fact that everyone does.”

Midfielder Grealish is among seven uncapped players in the 
25-man squad for the double-header.

Former Sheffield United loan goalkeeper Dean Henderson is looking for his first England cap, while Conor Coady – another ex-Blade – and Ainsley Maitland-Niles were brought into the squad on Saturday evening.

Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips was in the initial selection along with exciting Manchester City playmaker Phil Foden and Manchester United teenager Mason Greenwood.

“With everything we’ve seen on the training pitch, we’d have no hesitation in starting any of the players that have been with us,” Southgate said of the latter duo and the squad in general.

“That’s why they’re picked in the first place but also then you’re never quite certain how they’ll adapt and how they’ll fit in with the group.

“But they’re two of another group of very exciting young players that are coming through the English system.”