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Harry Maguire: I’m happy to take the criticism - it lifts pressure off my teammates

Harry Maguire: I’m happy to take the criticism - it lifts pressure off my teammates

Harry Maguire says he is happy to be a lightning rod of abuse from opposition supporters while playing for England and insists he can deal with the jeers.

The Manchester United centre-half also said it is too early to be concerned about his England place at next summer’s European Championship and is sure he will play "lots of games" this season, despite a move to West Ham collapsing in the summer.

Maguire was relentlessly targeted by the home fans and scored an own goal after coming on at half-time of England’s 3-1 friendly win over Scotland at Hampden Park on Tuesday.

After the friendly, England manager Gareth Southgate offered a passionate defence of Maguire and slammed sections of the English commentariat for their treatment of the defender -- saying it was "ridiculous", "a joke" and had created a situation "beyond anything I have ever seen".

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Maguire did not look entirely comfortable in a ferociously hostile atmosphere in Glasgow but the 30-year-old insisted he is happy to take the brunt of abuse from the terraces.

"It pretty much takes the pressure away from my teammates and puts it all on myself," Maguire said. "It makes them play better, for sure.

"It is a little bit of banter and it is a hostile environment, coming away to Scotland. We wanted to put on a performance and we have dominated from start to finish.

"We have given them a goal, which is a bit unfortunate you could say. But it was a great reaction from us all. We stayed calm, we stayed composed.

"When you hear the national anthem and the way they disrespect that, we knew it would be hostile and in the second half I got most of it. I am happy to go with that, don’t worry about that."

The Tartan Army ironically cheered every time Maguire completed a pass and chanted his name, while the biggest roar of a deafening night came when the stadium announcer confirmed the defender had scored an own goal to make it 2-1 in the 67th-minute.

"I would not say I am a person who struggles with pressure mentally, I have been through a lot in the last couple of years and I have been Manchester United captain for nearly four years," added Maguire, who was stripped of the United captaincy in July.

"You take a huge lot of responsibility and everything that comes with it and that is a lot of bad as well as good. But it was a huge honour and of course, it is a hostile environment here, and they piled pressure on myself. I would not say I am used to it but I can deal with it."

Maguire remains on the fringes at Old Trafford under coach Erik ten Hag and has made just one appearance in the first four games of the season, as a second-half substitute in a 3-1 defeat to Arsenal immediately before the international break.

In August, a £30million move to West Ham collapsed after the Hammers grew tired of him waiting to agree the terms of his exit with United but Maguire remains upbeat about his club prospects and says it is premature to worry about missing out on a place in England’s Euro 2024 squad next summer.

"It is way too far away to consider [missing out]," he said. "I take everything as each week goes by."

He added: "We just didn’t come to an agreement [to leave the club] and they were happy for me to stay and I was happy to fight for my place.

Maguire insists he is happy to fight for his place at Manchester United (REUTERS)
Maguire insists he is happy to fight for his place at Manchester United (REUTERS)

"I want to do that and every time I train or play I will give everything.

"Of course, my England career is a big priority. And so is my club career. I considered everything and I know, at the moment, when I have not started a game in the first four games of the season, the story comes to me.

"I finished off last season with two very strong performances for England and I have played in all five matches to help put us where we are in qualifying, so I need to keep performing when I get chosen.

"Listen, at club football, I want to play games, I want to play football. The first four weeks were hard because it was one game a week and the manager didn’t select me but we have lots of games coming up now and I am sure I will play lots of games.

"I don’t think [I am rusty]. I had a really positive performance in Ukraine and was really happy with my performance there. I spoke with the manager and the staff and they were really happy too. I went straight into that having only played a little bit at Arsenal but listen, of course you want to play week-in week-out and when you get that rhythm, it helps.

"But honestly, I feel good. I felt good in the Ukraine game and I felt good in the second half. Little things can go against you and one moment went against me. That is part and parcel of a defender."

By the end of the night, it was the pocket of England’s travelling fans at Hampden singing Maguire’s name after first-half goals from Phil Foden and Jude Bellingham, and Harry Kane’s late strike earned them a deserved win in a friendly to mark the 150th anniversary of the first international between the nations.

"The fans have always been with me," said Maguire.

"They have seen what I have delivered for England over 59 caps. I have been to three major tournaments with them, they have followed us around loud and proud and I have grown up a huge England fan and nothing is better than receiving a great reception every time I play for my country."

He added: "Gareth has been brilliant with me ever since I made my debut. He keeps saying ‘keep playing well, keep doing a job for England and keep helping us progress’. You see this team is progressing. He played me at the World Cup and I thought I had a fantastic World Cup having played not so many games.

"But I have got to keep performing when I get chosen. I felt like I did in Ukraine and in the second half today although what happened happened. It was a positive performance from the lads and I was really pleased to be part of that."