Southgate hails Solskjaer decision behind Maguire development

England boss Gareth Southgate believes Harry Maguire has grown into a much better player and leader since being appointed as Manchester United captain.

Maguire signed for the Red Devils in August 2019 and was officially made club captain by January 2020 after Ashley Young left for Inter Milan.

The 28-year-old has become an integral player for club and country, returning from injury to start England’s last three games and playing superbly in all three.

Southgate is delighted with how much the centre-back has progressed in recent years and has praised United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s decision to give him the captain’s armband.

‘We’re in touch with the players quite a lot when they’re not with us – as much as we can,’ said Southgate.

‘I try to respect clubs and not interfere but there are obvious times when things have happened and they need more support.

‘The beginning of this season was very difficult for Harry on a number of fronts.

‘So it’s brilliant to see how he has emerged with so much more confidence as a leader. You can see that within the group.

‘Being captain of Manchester United is a massive challenge, a massive responsibility but it’s brought a lot more out of him.

‘You can see he’s more confident in himself and has gone on to another level not just on his game but on his maturity.’

Maguire scored in the 4-0 rout of Ukraine on Saturday night to book a semi-final spot against Denmark on Wednesday and his attention immediately turned to that clash at Wembley after the win in Rome.

‘It is a great feeling. Back-to-back semi-finals at a major tournament is a great achievement,’ he said.

‘I don’t want to be a party pooper. We have another big game coming up. We want to go further this time than at the World Cup.

‘It is a great feeling that we are here and the way we have done it shows the progress we are making. Long may the improvement continue.

‘We have great belief in the dressing room. It was an impressive performance. We now have to rest and recover.

‘It is hard to soak it up when you have another big game coming and you know who you are playing and when.

‘The dressing room will be a great atmosphere tonight and then we will wake up tomorrow and be focused again.

‘This group are not settling for a semi-final, we want to go further.’

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