Harry Maguire fit and ready to face Scotland after recovering from ankle injury
Harry Maguire has declared himself fit and available for England’s eagerly-anticipated European Championship clash with Scotland.
The 28-year-old centre-back is an established part of Gareth Southgate’s side, having played a key role in the Three Lions’ unforgettable run to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals in Russia.
But Maguire’s availability for this summer’s Euros has been in doubt since sustaining a high ankle sprain on May 9 after Aston Villa’s Anwar El Ghazi landed awkwardly on him.
The defender missed the rest of Manchester United’s season, including sitting out the Europa League final, and was not ready for Sunday’s Group D win against Croatia.
Maguire has been progressing ahead of schedule, though, and last week returned to full training, putting him in contention for Friday’s clash against bitter rivals Scotland.
“I feel good, I’ve been training now,” the centre-back said. “Obviously the injury was a setback club football wise.
“Internationally I wanted to come into this with a lot of games under my belt with full fitness, but I feel good. I’m back available, been training and I’m looking forward to it.”
Asked if he was desperate to start on Friday, he said: “Yeah definitely. Obviously it’s a big game. I’ve done a few sessions now and feel like my fitness is there, so, like I say, I’m available for the game.”
Maguire feared missing the Europa League final and Euros as soon as the injury occurred, but the focus soon turned to strengthening the ankle after the “freak accident”.
“It’s about building the confidence every day, and the only way you can do that is by training and playing games,” he said.
“You can do as many rehab sessions as you like, but when you’re not playing that competitive football you can’t build that confidence, especially when it’s an ankle or knee injury.
“So it’s just about more training sessions and games in training, games whenever they come and the confidence will keep going.
“I’m sure it will niggle me for a few weeks and months. I haven’t had one before, but from speaking to players and physios, I’m sure it will be niggling.
“But as long as it’s stable and the pain is bearable then I’m sure I’ll be fine.”
If you didn’t play through pain you would probably spend more time on the sideline than you would on the football pitch
Maguire does not feel like there is any more risk returning than there would be recovering from any injury, insisting he feels fit and fresh for Friday.
“I think throughout a career in football if you didn’t play through pain you would probably spend more time on the sideline than you would on the football pitch,” he said.
“I have done it throughout my career and so has everyone else who plays week in, week out.
“The thing for me is I haven’t had an ankle injury before so I couldn’t gauge the pain or stability. That is down to the physios and we do tests day in, day out.
“We firmly believe that it is in a good place stable wise and when it is a good place stable wise that is the priority and I am all good to go.”
Maguire also says he came to England with United’s blessing, admitting he was “nowhere near ready to run, turn or twist on it” at the Europa League final despite being named on the bench.
“I was in every day seeing the physios and the manager Ole (Gunnar Solskjaer) has been great with me,” the Red Devils skipper said.
“He wouldn’t hold me back if he thought I was fit the first, second or third group game.
“He said ‘go and enjoy it, make sure it’s right obviously’. We have been in constant contact and the club has been brilliant with me.”
Southgate kept in regular contact with Maguire, who always felt he had a part to play as the focus turned fully on facing rivals Scotland.
“Of course it is a big game,” Maguire added. “Any game in the Euros is a massive game, putting Scotland in there as well is huge.
“It is going to be a great day, a great occasion for the country to get together and push us forward and try our best to go and get the three points and perform on the day.
“It will only be a great day if we get the three points and then I am sure we will enjoy the occasion.”