England manager Gareth Southgate has given his support to Harry Maguire after naming the Manchester United captain in the England squad despite his ongoing court case in Greece.
It has been nearly 10 months since the Three Lions boss last named a squad, but there have been tough decisions to make right up until Tuesday afternoon’s selection.
The inclusion of Maguire has been the main talking point, with the 27-year-old defender the subject of an ongoing hearing in Greece following his arrest in Mykonos in the early hours of Friday morning.
“I have spoken with Harry and have the insight to the story which is very different to what’s being reported. I have no reason to doubt what he’s telling me and it’s important he knows he’s got my support at this moment,” Southgate said at a press conference.
The England manager, though, accepted it was a complicated situation, with legal proceedings continuing on Tuesday afternoon.
“Yes it is clearly a decision that is not straightforward and a decision that in the end I could only take on the information I have,” Southgate said.
“You can only make decisions on facts you are aware of.
“If facts or information changes I will have to review that decision, but I have a fantastic relationship with the boy, he has been a fantastic character for us – he has my support at the moment.
“I’m not going to get into hypotheticals of what might happen, but I have got to reserve the right to review if further information becomes available.
“You always make decisions to the best of your ability given the information you have. People may agree or disagree with those decisions, but it is a position where every manager finds himself.
“Harry regrets the fact he has brought that sort of focus and attention to the team – he apologised for that – but also has his own side of the story.”
Southgate also handed uncapped Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood, Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden and Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips their first call-ups.
Danny Ings’ fine form for Southampton has seen him drafted in for the first time since making his debut in 2015, while Kyle Walker has been recalled having not played for England since the Nations League finals last June.
Walker’s Manchester City team-mate John Stones has been left out of the squad, but Raheem Sterling got the the nod despite questions over his availability.
There was no place for Callum Hudson-Odoi, Fikayo Tomori, Danny Rose or Callum Wilson, who were all in the squad against Kosovo in November, while Ross Barkley and Fabian Delph were also conspicuous by their absence.
Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ben Chilwell and James Maddison missed out through injury.
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