Thursday 20 September 2018

Maguire confident England can handle the expectation

Leicester defender says players are hungry to attack the World Cup.

England’s Harry Maguire during a training session at Enfield Training Ground, London.
England’s Harry Maguire during a training session at Enfield Training Ground, London.

By Rory Dollard, Press Association Sport, Repino

Harry Maguire expects the nation to come to a standstill during England’s World Cup opener against Tunisia and insists the team are ready to deliver.

After watching the first few days of action in Russia, England travel to Volgograd on Sunday to make their own bow in the tournament.

Maguire knows all about fan expectations having been a regular at Three Lions matches as a youngster – a habit he reprised two years ago when travelling to watch Euro 2016 with family and friends.

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Harry Maguire says England’s players have no fear (Owen Humphreys/PA).

The Leicester defender is now set to experience the other side of the equation and is tipped to pip Gary Cahill to a place in Gareth Southgate’s back three on Monday night.

“The country stops, especially when there’s a game on and England are playing in it,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live and talkSport.

“As a fan I’ve been to watch numerous England games as a boy – they’re passionate, everyone loves the game. As professional footballers we feel more than capable of handling that pressure.

“There are a lot of players in this squad who haven’t played in World Cups but we’re going to go in with no fear, really hungry and really attack this tournament.

“Now it’s time to get down to business. It’s tournament football, we’ve got to go into the group games and get three points.”

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Harry Maguire, left, moved to Leicester from Hull in June last year (Nick Potts/PA).

Should Maguire get the nod against the Eagles of Carthage, he would likely line up alongside Barnsley-born John Stones and fellow Sheffield boy Kyle Walker in the back three.

The trio have moved in similar circles for a long time and have played with against each for many years.

“We’re all from the Yorkshire area, the Sheffield area. I played against John when I was young boy at Sheffield United,” he recalled.

“We grew up playing each other quite a lot and I was at Sheffield United with Kyle, he was a few years above me in the age groups. But we used to know each other and speak.

“You could see when they were young the boys had great ability, you could see they would both go far in the game.”

Maguire has also arrived on the big stage in impressive fashion, just a year after being picked up by the Foxes following Hull’s relegation from the Premier League.

“It’s been a whirlwind few years, a remarkable rise and something I’m very proud of,” he said.

“To play for your country is the pinnacle of anyone’s football career, especially at a World Cup. But I’m in the moment, maybe in a few years you’ll look back at it and think of the memories, especially if they’re good ones.”

Press Association

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