Gareth Southgate admits Harry Maguire has been playing while 'not fully fit'

England head coach Gareth Southgate has revealed that he respects Harry Maguire for playing while not "fully fit" over the past few weeks.

Maguire was fast-tracked back into the Manchester United lineup last month after conducting just one on-grass training session following a calf injury.

Since then his performances have been shaky, with United slipping to disappointing defeats against Leicester City, Liverpool and Manchester City in the Premier League.

Despite his poor form, Southgate still selected him for England's comprehensive 5-0 win over Albania on Friday, with Maguire controversially opting for a fingers-in-his-ears celebration after netting his side's opening goal.

Roy Keane described his actions as embarrassing, but his national team manager defended him after the game. Since then he has doubled down on his support of the United captain during an interview with BBC Radio 5Live.

"He’s been fantastic with us, helped to get us to a World Cup semi-final and a European final, and he was in the team of the tournament in the summer," Southgate said.

"He has probably suffered in the last few weeks because he has been courageous enough to get out there and play not fully fit. You have characters who are prepared to do that, to play when they are not 100%.

"You know you're going to be judged as you would be as a fully fit player once you cross that line.

"Others don’t choose to do that, they choose to wait till they are 100% and only play when they are feeling great.

"They sometimes avoid the criticism. So, for me, he has gone up in my estimation, for the way he has put himself in that firing line [and] the way he’s felt the need to front the interviews after the games."

Maguire is likely to retain his place in the side when England take on San Marino on Monday night. The Three Lions only need a point against the lowest-ranked FIFA nation in the world to ensure their qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

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Source : 90min