sport news England boss Gareth Southgate hails 'pivotal' Harry Maguire ahead of Belgium ...

Gareth Southgate hails 'pivotal' Harry Maguire as England boss insists captain is still a 'big, big player' for his side Gareth Southgate has hailed the return of the 'pivotal' Harry Maguire  Maguire is set to feature for the first time in 11 months against Belgium  The defender has endured on-field and off-field issues since his last appearance The captain played in the 6-1 defeat to Spurs last week 

By Joe Bernstein For Mail On Sunday

Published: 22:31 BST, 10 October 2020 | Updated: 08:52 BST, 11 October 2020

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England manager Gareth Southgate has hailed the return of his ‘pivotal’ centre-half Harry Maguire after a torrid period for the captain.

Maguire — a cult hero in England’s run to the World Cup semi-final in 2018 — will be under particular scrutiny against Belgium today in his first international appearance for 11 months.

Since then, the defender has been convicted of aggravated assault during a summer holiday in Mykonos and he was withdrawn from England’s previous squad in August as a result.

Gareth Southgate has hailed the return of the 'pivotal' defender Harry Maguire to England

Gareth Southgate has hailed the return of the 'pivotal' defender Harry Maguire to England

His legal team have subsequently launched an appeal which will lead to a retrial but Maguire’s problems have continued on the pitch this season and his mistakes were blamed for ’s humiliating 6-1 defeat by Tottenham at Old Trafford last weekend.

Southgate is sticking by the 27-year-old, however, and insists England’s improved performances over the last three years have been largely down to Maguire.

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