HARRY MAGUIRE has defended England’s defensive march to the Euro 2020 knockout stage – claiming they are playing the football needed to win tournaments.
The Three Lions topped Group D on the back of two 1-0 wins and a goalless draw with Scotland, leading to concerns about whether they have the firepower to go far this summer.
But Maguire, who made his return in the win over Czech Republic after six weeks out with an ankle injury, says worried fans and pundits need to understand England are playing the long game to success rather simply being entertainers.
The Manchester United star said: “I know everyone wants to play well and create numerous chances but teams are well drilled and organised.
“Tournament football is about big moments in big games and not giving the opponents big moments to score from. At the moment we are doing that well.
“It’s not all perfect, we can improve but you can’t argue with seven points from three games.
“It’s great from the lads in the first three games in a home tournament when the pressure was on to win the group and we’ve managed to do that.
“We set out to win the group and we’ve done that. Seven points in three games. Can we play better? Of course we can. Will we improve? We will do everything we can to improve.
“Three clean sheets and being solid is a foundation. We’ve not conceded from a set-play. The fundamentals are there and now we’ve got to tidy up in every part of our game when we’re on the ball and there is a little bit more we can get out of each other and push each other.
“If we are going to progress in this tournament we’re going to have to do that.”
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Having got 90 minutes under his belt for the first time since mid-April, Maguire is now hoping to play a major role in helping Gareth Southgate’s side progress into the quarter-finals.
The 28-year-old admits he has found it tough watching on while he desperately battled to get back to fitness in time to play his first European Championship game.
And having been part of the travelling support in the last Euros, the Yorkshireman is relishing actually being in the centre of things this time round.
He added: “I was out of action for six and a half weeks and it’s been tough to watch. I don’t like watching football matches, so to be back on the pitch is something I love doing.
“To be back out there at Wembley in my first Euros is a great feeling. It was all the hard work that I put in after six and a half weeks that was out there on the pitch.
“I was in France five years ago and it has been a crazy journey for myself and my family and friends, who were with me supporting the lads in 2016.
“I’m a passionate England fan and when I haven’t been playing I’ve been kicking and heading every ball in the stands because I want the team to do well whether I’m playing or not.”
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