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Harry Maguire believes his return to fitness alongside Jordan Henderson is important for England due to their leadership – despite Roy Keane's scathing criticism of the latter.
Maguire and Henderson are captains of Manchester United and Liverpool respectively but neither has been involved in the opening matches of Euro 2020 due to recoveries from injuries.
Central defender Maguire missed United’s final five matches of the season – including the Europa League final – due to an ankle injury sustained against Aston Villa, but he was named on the substitutes bench for England’s scoreless draw with Scotland on Friday.
Henderson has not played at club level since sustaining a groin injury in Liverpool’s Merseyside derby defeat to Everton at Anfield on 20 February.
Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson have been important figures for England in recent years
(Image: FELIPE TRUEBA/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
Gareth Southgate’s decision to select Henderson in the squad drew criticism from ITV pundit Keane prior to the tournament beginning.
Keane said earlier this month: "I was convinced Jordan was going to play the other day (against Austria, in a pre-tournament friendly). I think it's a huge distraction – he's clearly not fit.
"I don't think he should be involved. If he can't start against Romania, he's not fit.
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"Physically and mentally, this game won't be that tough for him to deal with, he's an experienced player.
"He's not kicked a ball for three and a half months and he's going to European Championship? He can't be right.
"I've heard a lot of people say they want him around the place. For what?
"Does he do card tricks? Does he have a sing-song? Does he do quizzes in the evening? What does he do?
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"Liverpool won't be happy either. Surely Jordan doesn't want to be around the place being some sort of cheerleader, you want to play and clearly he's nowhere near it."
However, United central defender Maguire believe the return to selection of both himself and Henderson will benefit England.
Maguire explained: “It is important to have leadership in the group and I think we have that in the squad, with a lot of captains at club level which brings that experience.
Should England bring Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson back into their starting XI? Comment below.
“Jordan is back to fitness and has been training for a while, and I’m back too.
“The other players have put us in a good position in the group and we are ready to keep going.
“It’s a big squad we have here with 26 players and a lot of those are playing at a major international finals for the first time.
“But you only have a great time if you have a great tournament and we are here to win football matches.”
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Maguire also insisted that he was now fit for selection – and he could be involved in Tuesday’s final Group D clash against Czech Republic.
“It was disappointing to get the injury and I’m working as hard as I can to get back to fitness, back to training and playing football,” he added.
“The rehab sessions have been tough because you have to work hard and prepare yourself for the contact training and when you’re on your own they aren’t the most pleasurable.
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“It’s great to be back with the lads in training and working with the ball, rather than solely all the physical recovery side of things.
“I’m feeling good, I’m getting stronger and more confident – it’s all stable now and it’s about building confidence, I’m ready to go.
“The five-a-side games in training are good for your sharpness and getting back to speed.”
Maguire is hopeful of rekindling the central defensive partnership with John Stones – his rival at club level – after their successful combination during the World Cup three years ago.
He added: “John had a great season at Manchester City and he has carried that form into the early stages of this tournament.
“We grew up not far from each other and played in the same youth team tournaments with Barnsley and Sheffield United, so we are good friends and is a pleasure to play alongside.”