Chris Waddle believes Harry Maguire’s lack of pace could be exploited by France - but concedes that the central defender has rarely been found wanting in an England shirt.
The 29-year-old has made just three Premier League starts for Manchester United in 2022-23 and has struggled for form at club level for some time, but England boss Gareth Southgate’s faith has been unwavering.
Waddle understands the Three Lions manager’s trust in the centre-back and believes Maguire is better-suited to the system England utilise - compared with the one employed by club manager Erik ten Hag.
However, the former England international fears United’s captain could be caught out by the speed of French forwards like Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele.
Rarely Lets Southgate Down
Speaking exclusively to Lord Ping, he said: “Harry Maguire rarely lets Gareth Southgate down.
“He had a sticky patch before the tournament in the Nations League matches and, to be honest, I was worried about him and England going into this World Cup.
“Maguire has definitely suffered since Ten Hag has gone to United because he plays a high tempo pressing game and Harry’s never been blessed with outstanding pace.
“Playing in a higher line, he found it hard. I suspect that Ten Hag would be looking to move him on and I don’t think he has a future at Manchester United under him.
“Certain players suit certain tactical options and managers. Whether England play with three centre-backs or two, we don’t really press teams that high and Harry doesn’t get exploited as much with balls in behind. Playing under Gareth for England suits him.
“[However], I feel like there is a lack of pace between Maguire and [John] Stones that could get exploited against France. I think that could be the one weakness within our team.”
And Waddle has credited Maguire for managing to put in steady showings despite a great deal of criticism from fans, particularly on social media.
“A lot of people are expecting him to make a mistake and have been waiting for that to happen,” he said.
“For a kid who has had a lot of knock-backs, he looks very confident. Fair play to him for the way he has responded to the criticism that he has faced from fans and media.
“It’s not easy to hear your name booed after it gets read out, it's hard to switch that off. If Maguire says that he doesn’t hear that, I don’t believe him.
“In ‘86 and ‘90, we didn’t have a clue what was being said or going on at home, but this group of players will be aware of everything that is being said.
“He does [deserve credit]. It’s not easy to play football for your country when you’re getting hammered by the media and fans.
“He’s faced up to every challenge and it takes a brave man to do that. Fair play to him.”
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