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Harry Maguire insists England need a ‘little bit more quality’ in final third

Harry Maguire started England’s defeat in Italy despite his inconsistent form at Manchester United (Antonio Calanni/AP)
Harry Maguire started England’s defeat in Italy despite his inconsistent form at Manchester United (Antonio Calanni/AP)

Harry Maguire admits England need to improve in the final third of the pitch as their Nations League relegation was confirmed with defeat in Italy.

A 1-0 loss at San Siro means Gareth Southgate’s side will finish bottom of Group A3 even if they beat Germany at Wembley in their final fixture.

To do so, England would have to improve on a dismal recent goalscoring run, which has seen them net just once in five Nations League games, joining San Marino as the only team not to register from open play in the current tournament.

Gareth Southgate's side were relegated from League A of the Nations League following defeat at San Siro.
Gareth Southgate’s side were relegated from League A of the Nations League following defeat at San Siro (Antonio Calanni/AP)

Harry Kane’s late penalty earned England a point in Germany back in June but it remains the only goal they have managed across a dire campaign.

“I think it was built on fine margins,” Maguire said of the loss to Milan, which left England on a five-match winless streak.

“A little bit more quality shown in the final third and we could win the game comfortably.

“We had good control in the game but that is international football, international football is built on being solid and having that little bit of quality in the final third and in the recent games we haven’t done that.”

Harry Kane's penalty against Germany remains England's only goal of the current Nations League campaign.
Harry Kane’s penalty against Germany remains England’s only goal of the current Nations League campaign (Nick Potts/PA)

The poor run of form has come at a bad time for Southgate and his players.

The England manager was booed as he applauded the travelling supporters at the end of Friday’s defeat and the Germany fixture is the last before he leads his team into the World Cup.

But Maguire insists no-one within the camp has been disheartened by the recent results, adding: “I think we have great belief in what we’re doing, we still have great belief in everyone around who is in the dressing room.

“So of course it won’t affect our confidence, we will go into the game on Monday with confidence that we can go win the game.”

Maguire started in Italy despite having been on the bench for Manchester United’s last four Premier League games.

The centre-back was selected by new Red Devils boss Erik ten Hag for the first two league fixtures of his reign – a 2-1 loss to Brighton and a galling 4-0 reverse at Brentford.

Now though, the United skipper knows he has to fight to earn back his place for his club and seal his World Cup berth with his country.

“To be honest I don’t listen to the noise,” he said of criticism aimed at him.

Maguire endured a difficult start to the season at Manchester United.
Harry Maguire endured a difficult start to the season at Manchester United (Ian Hodgson/PA)

“I’m Manchester United captain, and Manchester United are the most spoken about club in England, so if I listened to the noise, I’d probably be there all day reading it so I don’t listen to it.

“I can imagine there’s a lot because I haven’t been playing and I’m a footballer who hasn’t had that in my career to date.

“I’ve always been a player who has been available and always played in starting XIs, so it’s different for me, something that I don’t want to get used to but I need to work hard in training and make sure when that chance comes I’m ready.

“Because that chance will come, we all know in football.”