Harry Maguire: England defender facing ‘tight’ race to play against Croatia in Euro 2020 opener

Manchester United defender Harry Maguire

Harry Maguire faces a “tight” race to recover from an ankle ligament injury and be fit in time to play in England’s opening game of Euro 2020 against Croatia, Gareth Southgate has admitted.

Maguire was named in Southgate’s final 26-man squad for the tournament on Tuesday despite missing the final five games of Manchester United’s season and was an unused substitute for last week’s Europa League final in Gdansk.

The 28-year-old is yet to join up with the England squad due to quarantine restrictions following his return from Poland but has been visited by members of the national set-up’s medical team.

Southgate is confident that England now have an idea of Maguire’s prognosis, having received little information from United over the past few weeks, but is still uncertain as to whether he will start against Croatia next Sunday.

“We know exactly where he’s at,” the England manager said. “Our medical team have been over with him in Manchester. He’s not travelled to us yet with quarantine issues coming from Poland. That was a bit more complicated.

“He’s got a bit do. Like [Jordan Henderson], both have a bit to do to be available but we feel the possibility they can player a part and the fact they are such fantastic characters to have around the group.

“Hendo, his leadership and presence is already having an affect on people, especially the younger ones in the group but all the others as well. Given we were able to pick 26, we felt the opportunity to have those two with us was a straightforward one really.”

Southgate could not say whether Maguire would definitely recover before the end of England’s group stage campaign, which finishes against the Czech Republic at Wembley on 22 June.

“We don’t know that yet. It’s going to be tight for the first game [vs Croatia], there’s no question,” he said.

“Again, I think he’s such a good player and we had the additional size of squad, the fact that that leadership which is growing in him all the time, we wanted to take that opportunity to bring him into the squad.”

Southgate called up John Stones, Conor Coady and Tyrone Mings as England’s other recognised centre-backs, with Kyle Walker and Reece James also able to operate there if required.

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