Soccer

I want to play – Harry Maguire admits lack of matches will become an issue

Harry Maguire wants to be a Manchester United regular again (Martin Rickett/PA)
Harry Maguire wants to be a Manchester United regular again (Martin Rickett/PA) Harry Maguire wants to be a Manchester United regular again (Martin Rickett/PA)

Harry Maguire admits he cannot keep just playing once a month for Manchester United but remains confident of winning back his place and helping Erik ten Hag’s team climb the table.

It has been a bumpy ride since the 30-year-old starred in England’s run to the Euro 2020 final, with the defender falling down the pecking order at Old Trafford and then losing the captaincy.

A widely-discussed summer move to West Ham did not materialise and settled Maguire remained at a club where he is trying to get his career back on track with next summer’s Euros looming large.

Gareth Southgate has been a staunch supporter of the centre-back throughout his ups and downs but admitted to concerns over his level of involvement, which the ex-United skipper is determined to improve.

“I have belief in my ability and what I have done in my career as every player should,” Maguire said.

“Every player who is on the bench should believe they should be starting, otherwise they wouldn’t be playing at a high level. I am no different.

“Listen, it’s been tough. I want to play games. I want to feel important to the club and I want to feel important to the rest of the team.

“At the moment I haven’t been playing anywhere near as much as I’d like. It’s the bottom line of it.

“I’ve just got to make sure I am ready to take the opportunities when they come along.”

Harry Maguire made his first Premier League start of the season against Brentford
Harry Maguire made his first Premier League start of the season against Brentford Harry Maguire made his first Premier League start of the season against Brentford (Martin Rickett/PA)

Asked when gametime becomes an issue and, given Euro 2024 is coming up, whether that could be sooner rather than later, said: “Yeah, of course.

“I mean, I’m not going to sit here all my life and play once every month and if it carries on then I’m sure myself and the club will sit down and have a chat about things.

“But, honestly, at the moment I’m fully focused on two games for England, two big games.

“Then I’m fully focused on fighting and trying to get back my place at Manchester United and helping the team climb up the league to where we should be.”

England face Australia in a Wembley friendly on Friday before attention turns to the crunch Euro 2024 qualifier against Italy.

Maguire has kept his England place despite his struggles to break his way into Ten Hag’s line-up, making his first Premier League start of the campaign in Saturday’s 2-1 comeback win against Brentford.

“It’s not my decision whether I start the next game or not,” said the defender, who provided the assist for Scott McTominay’s winner. “I’m unsure on that. I’m sure in a couple of weeks I’ll go back and find out.

“Listen, if you look back on my last 15 to 20 starts for club and country, I would be happy to sit here and say ‘I’m really happy with my performances’.

“My record under this manager speaks for itself. I haven’t started as many games as I’d like, but my win percentage when I’ve played is ridiculously high.

“And of course there’s times when I can do more and times when I can improve and help the team, but, yeah, I’m just wanting to help the team.

“I’m wanting to help the team get out of this position that we’re in at the moment and hopefully we can do that in the coming weeks.”

Maguire benefitted from a string of defensive absentees as he made just his ninth Premier League start since Ten Hag arrived.

The Dutchman has always spoken positively about the defender in public, saying in August that he “has the abilities to be a top-class centre-back” and must “fight for his place”.

“I can only do what I’ve been doing in terms of when I’ve come into the team, bringing positive performances,” Maguire said.

“I’ve started two games this season and come on in a few off the bench, but, yeah, keep working hard in training.

“The manager can only watch training and make his decision from training and the games when I get the opportunity to play.

“I’ll keep working hard, I’ll keep pushing. I have great belief in myself.”