Tuesday, February 27News That Matters

Souness names Man Utd player who is ‘more than capable’ of forcing his way into the team

Graeme Souness has backed Harry Maguire to break up Manchester United’s first-choice pairing in defence between Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane.

The club skipper was dropped from the United lineup after the dismal season-opening defeats to Brighton and Brentford.

Varane and Martinez would go on to strike up a fine partnership at centre-half, keeping the England star out of the team. Maguire was sidelined with a hamstring issue in September and early October but has been limited to just five starting appearances in all competitions this season.

The former Leicester City player missed United’s Carabao Cup win over Burnley on Wednesday but could be in contention to start the Premier League game against Nottingham Forest on 27 December.

Martinez and Varane will not be available after their World Cup campaigns with finalists Argentina and France which could offer Maguire a chance to force his way back into Erik ten Hag’s starting lineup.

And after his impressive season in Qatar with England, former Liverpool midfielder Souness believes the 29-year-old defender will keep his place in the team heading into 2023.

‘I have to say, I am also pleased for Harry Maguire,’ Souness wrote for the Daily Mail. ‘He was much maligned going into the tournament by people who find it easy to criticise. He is far better than some folk make out.

‘He had a very good World Cup and the challenge for him now is to dislodge one of the centre-halves at Man United, Raphael Varane or Lisandro Martinez. I think he is more than capable of doing that.’

Maguire’s absence against Burnley saw Casemiro drop into centre-half to partner Lindelof in the 2-0 win.

‘They look like they’ve got a big problem at centre back,’ Neville told Sky Sports.

‘Martínez looks like he’s going to be at least a couple of weeks, Varane obviously he was injured and you don’t know when he’s going to come back, and if Harry Maguire’s ill they’re going to go potentially with a really weakened defence into those Premier League games.

‘I think if they had been playing against a Premier League team tonight they would have been punished, so they’ve got to get some players back quickly.’

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