Erik ten Hag says he has “big expectations” for Harry Maguire, who has been thrown back into the starting lineup for Manchester United’s FA Cup game with Reading.
United have played in both cup competitions this week, seeing off Nottingham in the Carabao Cup semi-finals. They’ve had to rotate their team with the games coming thick and fast.
Maguire was dislodged after the arrival of Lisandro Martinez, but Ten Hag has made it known that the England defender would’ve played more matches had he returned from the World Cup with a full bill of health and backed him to take his chance after impressive displays in training.
He told ITV: “We have to be ready that is why we have a strong selection. Harry [Maguire] is back. I already said yesterday [in the pre-match press conference] he was ill when he returned from the World Cup, otherwise, he should have played a couple of games. But you have to play to get back into the rhythm.
“He did already play some games, but I think this is a good game for him to return in, especially when you see the height of the opponent. He had some chances. But every player has to pick their chances. He is training very well, training very dominant. And that is what I want to see from him. He is a leader and captain and I have big expectations of him.
“[But] it’s not just about Harry. As a team, we want to achieve, we want to achieve a result this season. We need a squad. So every player has to make a performance, has to give the best he has.”
Maguire has only started four games in the league, with another four appearances coming from the bench. Martinez has established himself alongside Raphael Varane in defence, which has limited his minutes.
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Ten Hag recently rebuffed claims that Maguire was his fifth-choice centre-half. “He has to fight for his position and things can change, sometimes also really quickly. I think he is making progress and it’s up to him,” said the Dutchman.
Maguire, despite his lack of minutes at club level, was a regular for England at the World Cup 2022. He’s been a favourite for Gareth Southgate but there was concern about his selection given his lack of match sharpness.