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Harry Maguire hails Gareth Southgate for unwavering belief in Man Utd defender

Harry Maguire has lauded England boss Gareth Southgate for the "faith and trust" shown in him during a challenging time in his career.

Southgate is preparing to lead England into a fourth major tournament at the helm and has come the closest to leading the nation to glory for the first time since 1966 – reaching a World Cup semi-final, the final of Euro 2020 and the World Cup quarter-finals in Qatar in 2022.

During that time, Southgate has stuck rigidly to supporting Maguire even when the Manchester United defender was out of the team at Old Trafford, had been stripped of the captaincy and was being jeered by England fans.

Maguire has now largely come through the other side of such criticism and is on course to keep his place at the heart of Southgate's defence heading to Germany this summer.

"I think that the faith and the trust that he has shown me throughout my time for England has been brilliant," Maguire said of the England boss.

"I think I've been in every single squad I've been available for, I've played every competitive game that I've been available for.

"So it gives me great confidence and belief that I can turn things around. It gave me the belief in myself and he has been a huge part of that and I can only thank him for the support.

"There's loads of people out there now who probably don't think I should be in the squad. There's millions of people that think I should be. That's football and that's why it's such a great game because everyone has such a different opinion."

While performances in major tournaments have improved since Southgate was appointed on a full-time basis in 2016, England have still failed to win a men's final since their sole World Cup success 58 years ago.

Asked if anything other than winning the Euros would be deemed as a failure this time around, Maguire replied: "I feel as a group we're ready to win.

"If you asked every single player in the squad they'd say the expectation is to win the tournament. However, we do understand that it's tournament football and if we are going to win the Euros, you are probably going to have to win a penalty shoot-out, so you are going to have to be prepared on that aspect.

Southgate's current contract expires at the end of the year and England's displays in Germany could determine whether he extends his stay or leaves the post.

Such has been his impressive reign, the former Middlesbrough boss has been linked with the Manchester United manager's position in recent days.

For the time being, however, Maguire is not looking beyond the European Championships and the hope Southgate remains in place in the aftermath.

"Yes, definitely," he replied when asked if he wanted to see Southgate remain in the post.

"I don't know what's going to happen after the Euros, I don't know if he knows what's going to happen. But I feel like what he's done from when he first took over this job to where we are at now, we've taken huge strides and he's a massive part of that."

Maguire headed for international duty having come off the bench in United's extra-time win over Liverpool in the FA Cup quarter-final.

Someone else who starred in the tie and has been rewarded for his fine form with a maiden senior call-up is Kobbie Mainoo – and Maguire is a big fan of the teenage midfielder.

"He can handle the ball brilliantly, he's really strong, powerful, and you can see the progression to play that role, especially for Manchester United," he added.

"I didn't have any concerns whatsoever. It's incredible he's (only) 18, he's so mature. He's a bit like Jude (Bellingham) was when he was young boy. He's got a mature head on his shoulders."

Meanwhile, a meme of Maguire talking to his partner at the 2018 World Cup which has been often used since the finals in Russia was posted on social media by the official X – formerly known as Twitter – account of the Conservative Party on Tuesday.

Posting about the potential independent football regulator, the @Conservatives account put the picture of Maguire with a mock quote relating to the collapsed plans for a European Super League.

Maguire, though, insists he was not consulted over the use of the image: "That's been everywhere that (picture)," he said.

"No, they have had no permission. I didn't even know about the advert to be honest."

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