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Skipper Harry geared up for Foxes return

Maguire believes Manchester United can finish their Champions League qualification quest


Harry Maguire is ready to go back to his old club for a vital Premier League clash

Harry Maguire is ready to go back to his old club for a vital Premier League clash

Harry Maguire is ready to go back to his old club for a vital Premier League clash

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire is ready for Sunday's Champions League shoot-out with former club Leicester, saying "you're in the wrong sport" if you cannot get up for the high-pressure clash.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men were far from at their best against West Ham on Wednesday, but the 1-1 draw was enough to see them break into the top four for the first time since September.

United are in third spot heading into the season finale at fellow Champions League hopefuls Leicester, who slipped to fifth as their poor run coincided with an impressive upturn by Solskjaer's men.

United will secure a return to European football's top table if they avoid defeat at the King Power Stadium, with Maguire returning for the first time since last summer's big-money move to Old Trafford.

"We're disappointed," the United skipper said after the 1-1 draw. "It was an important game - a very important game not to lose - but we want to win the game.

"We started the game on the front foot, high tempo, big intensity and we should really have taken the lead. And then we had a sucker punch before half-time, which was disappointing.

"Great reaction from the lads to come out second half. It was a great goal from Mason (Greenwood): great feet, great finish and nice play from Anto (Anthony Martial) as well to find him.

"We're in a great position. We'd have taken this at Christmas, so we have got to take the positives."


Asked if United are ready for one last push after a punishing schedule, Maguire said: "Well, I hope so! If you can't get ready for the game that's coming on Sunday, then you're in the wrong sport.

"It's a huge game. We've got three days now to prepare for it, which with our schedule being what it's been it's generally been two days and then play.

"So, you don't get time on the training ground, it's more about recovering.

"It's nice to have three days, which seems a bit crazy to say but the schedule has been hard for the lads. But we'll be ready on Sunday."

Teenager Greenwood may well have a key role to play against the Foxes, having capped another promising display with an emphatic goal to cancel out Michail Antonio's penalty.

"It was a great goal," Maguire said. "When he gets in that box and he can manoeuvre his feet and he can manoeuvre it to either foot, he's a nightmare for defenders. I know from training.

"But he's been excellent, it's great to see him playing with confidence.

He's a special talent and he's going to have a big future at this club," said United's skipper Maguire

The point not only put United in the top four but guaranteed West Ham's survival, with David Moyes looking to kick on next season having been allowed to leave after staving off relegation in his first spell at the Hammers.

"We're under contract anyway so whether we were Premier League or not I was going to be at West Ham unless the owners chose different," he said.

"Last time I only had a short contract so the owners were entitled to do what they wanted to do, this time I am under contract and I can see shoots of improvement.

"I think there is a great opportunity to improve a great club with big ambitions."

Solskjaer is delighted to be heading into the season finale at top-four rivals Leicester with a "fantastic opportunity" to qualify for the Champions League.

"Well, going into half-time we knew that's not the result we wanted and a draw or a 1-0 win or a 2-0 win was more or less the same outcome for us," Solskjaer said about the performance against the Hammers.

"Then we have the same starting point on Sunday. You can't expect to go and turn teams over and score three or five like we needed to have a different scenario for Sunday.

"When we started after the lockdown, we had to go for it - we had to go for goal difference, we had to go for points. The effort has been fantastic and the results have been fantastic.


"Of course, you'd like to win against Southampton, you concede in the last second, and here today you concede a penalty in the last second of the first half.

"But we've given ourselves a fantastic opportunity and a great starting point for Sunday."

Solskjaer also joined in the praise for Greenwood. "He's bailed us out a few times and he's done it again," Solskjaer said.

"He's been absolutely top class ever since we gave him an opportunity. I think Cardiff in the last game of last season was his first start and he was our best player in that game and he's grown and grown in confidence and belief.

"He trusts himself that his talent, his qualities, attributes, they actually work at the highest level."

Greenwood's goal saved Pogba's blushes in particular. The midfielder put his hands in front of his face when blocking a powerful shot from Declan Rice and saw Antonio put away the penalty awarded by the video assistant referee.

"It's a natural reaction," Solskjaer said. "Paul's held his hand up in knowing that he should have taken it in the mush instead.

"But it's a natural reaction if that ball comes flying at you at 100mph. It wouldn't have made a difference anyway."

While Solskjaer's side have a lot riding on the final day, former United manager David Moyes can rest easy.

Already boasting a superior goal difference, the point means that West Ham are guaranteed another season in the Premier League.