Football

Harry Maguire has our full support: Gareth Southgate

United captain's horror season continues with red card in 1-0 loss to Denmark

Gareth Southgate warned England to learn from their disciplinary woes, after giving Harry Maguire his "full support" following the Manchester United defender's dismissal in yesterday morning's (Singapore time) 1-0 defeat by Denmark.

Southgate's side suffered their first defeat for a year as Maguire was sent off for two first-half bookings before Christian Eriksen's penalty sealed the Nations League A, Group 2 win for Denmark.

Adding to the growing sense that Southgate is struggling to keep his players under control, Chelsea right-back Reece James marred his first England start when he was sent off after the final whistle for confronting referee Jesus Gil.

Following hot on the heels of Kyle Walker's dismissal against Iceland in September, England have had three players sent off in a calendar year for the first time.

The rash of reds comes amid off-field issues in which England players have shown questionable judgment this year.

Maguire was given a suspended sentence of 21 months and 10 days in prison after being found guilty of repeated bodily harm, attempted bribery and violence against public employees on the Greek island of Mykonos in August.

The conviction was nullified after he appealed, but the 27-year-old's incident was followed by Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood being sent home from Iceland after breaching coronavirus protocols by inviting local women back to the England hotel.

Tammy Abraham, Jadon Sancho and Ben Chilwell missed last week's friendly against Wales after ignoring social distancing rules to attend a party.

It is an alarming sequence and Southgate conceded England's players had only themselves to blame. "It's an obvious question we're going to be asked. We've put ourselves in unnecessary positions off the pitch," he said.

"Of course, there have been things that haven't been right. We have addressed them.

"The reds for Kyle Walker and Harry Maguire here, one yellow justified, one not so sure.

"We've got to learn from it because if you go down to 10, historically that means we're out, especially if you're doing it for an hour.

"We talked all the time about discipline because we knew it cost us in other tournaments."

England captain Harry Kane did not seem worried about the Three Lions' on-pitch discipline, telling talkSPORT: "I don't think it's affecting the squad, it's easy to talk about it from the outside but we're a very strong unit.

"We've spoken about being professional on and off the pitch, we know we're role models but we're human beings as well. You learn from your mistakes and you grow from them."

Despite Maguire's latest meltdown, Southgate made it clear the United captain could count on his backing.

"For me, he is a top player, a massive part of what we do and he is going through a period where a lot of stick is coming his way," Southgate said.

"He has our full support and I know his club will be the same. We have total belief in him.

"He has been getting all sorts for a while from people who should know better...

"He is having one of those periods where things are going against him but things will turn." - AFP

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