Gareth Southgate makes Harry Maguire ‘decision’ ahead of England v USA

The Manchester United defender is expected to face America in the second World Cup group game.

Harry Maguire will start at the heart of defence for England’s World Cup clash with USA, according to reports.

The Three Lions face America on Friday (7pm) in their second game at the Qatar tournament, following a 6-2 victory over Iran in the opening group game. Maguire was replaced due to illness in the second half of that game, with Gareth Southgate stating there was ‘no point [in him] carrying on’ given England’s commanding lead.

Therefore, Maguire’s place in the starting XI for the fixture with the USA was also in doubt, but he has returned to training ahead of the match and looks likely to be involved on Friday. As per Sky Sports, the Manchester United defender ‘will start’ in the Group B encounter, where a win would secure England’s place in the last-16.

Maguire’s availability will be a big boost for Southgate, who has repeatedly backed the former Leicester City man. The defender also received the backing of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford during Wednesday’s press conference.

“Part of being a footballer is being criticised, as everyone gets criticised in football, but of course he needs to be respected a lot more,” said the Everton stopper. “But Harry is mentally strong and takes it really well.

“I think it’s a bit unfair but his performances on the pitch show why he has so many caps for England and is captain of Man United.

“Myself and Harry have a great relationship,” he added. “The majority of my caps have been with Harry playing in front of me and we work really well together. Our defensive record with Harry playing there is really good as well and he is in a very good moment.”

As for the USA, they drew 1-1 with Wales in their opening match of the World Cup, with Gareth Bale’s late penalty denying Gregg Berhalter’s men three points. The Three Lions have played America twice in the World Cup and failed to win either meeting, losing 1-0 in 1950 and drawing 1-1 in the 2010 tournament.

Harry Kane is also expected to be fit for England’s next game, and the captain trained on Thursday following an ankle scan the day prior.