Gary Neville has revealed why he believes losing Harry Maguire would be more damaging to England’s hopes at this summer’s European Championship than the absence of Harry Kane.
England head into this summer’s major tournament regarded amongst the favourites to end a long wait for success on the international stage, with Gareth Southgate’s talented squad spearheaded by captain Harry Kane.
Kane is enjoying a superb season with Tottenham and currently leads the Premier League for both goals and assists, though Neville believes the loss of Manchester United centre-back Maguire would be more damaging to the Three Lions’ hopes of success.
Neville believes Maguire’s absence would be the ‘biggest problem’ for Southgate should it happen, insisting a lack of depth in central defence makes the 27-year-old irreplaceable.
“I always imagine losing a player,” Neville said on Sky Sports Monday Night Football. “So you lose Harry Maguire. That is a big problem for Gareth Southgate. I think it is his biggest problem.”
“If you’ve then got John Stones as your other centre-back… Think if you’ve got Stones and [Tyrone] Mings, Stones and [Conor] Coady, Stones and [Eric] Dier. I am not having it.”
Asked specifically if he believed Maguire was a bigger loss than Kane, Neville said: “Yes I do.
“For this squad, yes. Harry Kane is the best player in the squad, but if Gareth wants to have a back four and go 4-3-3, the only chance of that is keeping Harry Maguire fit.
“We’ve seen Coady in a back four tonight. Mings in a back four, I like him but I don’t think he can play in a back four at the level we are talking about in terms of winning the tournament.”
Neville admitted that Kane’s absence would also be a devastating blow for the national side despite a range of attacking options, before reiterating his stance that Maguire’s absence would be a loss that drastically alters England’s style and system.
“I do think there is a problem if Harry Kane gets injured,” he said. “But you could go with [Marcus] Rashford, [Dominic] Calvert-Lewin, [Raheem] Sterling as a false forward, [Phil] Foden. There are options that England could [use and] still win games.
“But with Harry Maguire injured, I think the ability to go to a back four is lost.”