Harry Maguire came up with a superb performance in England’s historic 2-0 win over Germany in the last 16 at Euro 2020. UEFA even named him their ‘Star of the Match’.
Our skipper was a commanding presence throughout – winning headers, striding out of defence with the ball, showing bravery at every turn.
But there was one slight disappointment buried in among the many highlights in Maguire’s display: a yellow card.
Harry was deemed to have fouled Joshua Kimmich as the Germans attempted a counter-attack shortly after Raheem Sterling had given England the lead.
The booking leaves him in a precarious position. Another yellow in England’s quarter-final with Ukraine on Saturday evening (20:00 BST) and he would be ruled out of a potential semi-final.
The good news? If Maguire manages to avoid a caution – or Gareth Southgate opts to protect him from the possibility of suspension – all yellow cards are wiped out following this stage of the competition. That ensures players competing at the last-four stage will be able to compete in the final, unless they are sent off.
So, what should England and Southgate do? Read the arguments put forward by two of our reporters, and then vote in the poll below to let us know what you think!
ENGLAND SHOULD PROTECT THEIR MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER
Joe Ganley, Club Reporter
Manchester United fans know better than anyone just how integral Harry Maguire can be to a team. We found out, painfully, in Gdansk. In the club’s biggest match since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer became manager, the captain’s brave, prompting presence was sorely missed. When it matters most, you want Maguire in your team. But England should have enough to get through Saturday night’s game against Ukraine with Tyrone Mings reinstalled at centre-back.
Of course, a team with England’s record at international tournaments should not be taking a quarter-final lightly. This, after all, is a nation that was famously defeated by Iceland at the last edition of the tournament. But the Three Lions have already beaten a strong Croatia team without Maguire in the opening match and, as the Europa League final, proved, it’s in the biggest matches of all that Harry’s leadership and mental fortitude are most valuable. Ukraine finished third in their group, and have won just one of their four games so far inside 90 minutes. So I think this is the time for Gareth Southgate to be brave, take a long-term view, and use his amply stocked squad.
If they make the semi-finals, England will have to overcome a hurdle they’ve failed to jump on three occasions at major tournaments since their famous World Cup win in 1966. Maguire’s absence would be a huge loss from both a footballing perspective and a psychological one. There’s also Harry’s injury to consider: he’s only just returned from a problematic ankle complaint, and tournaments are unrelenting, with games every few days. Southgate should trust the other defenders to get the job done against Ukraine, and protect arguably the most influential player in his first-choice XI. The focus should be plotting a route towards winning the whole tournament, not merely reaching the last four.
MAGUIRE WILL AVOID YELLOW – HE MUST PLAY!
Sam Carney, Club Reporter
Harry should definitely play against Ukraine. After beating Germany, it’s easy for England fans to get ahead of ourselves. We just need to get past Andriy Shevchenko’s men, before seeing off Czech Republic or Denmark and that’s us in the final, right? Those two sides are looking strong, so it would make sense to save the in-form defender for the harder match. But what if that match doesn’t come? Resting Maguire could lead to the backline being unnecessarily weakened versus Ukraine and it only takes one sucker-punch and that’s it. Tournament done.
Gareth Southgate should trust Maguire to start and get through the quarter-final tie without picking up the booking that would rule him out. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did just that last season. Twice. If Harry had seen yellow in the visit to Burnley, he would have missed Liverpool away later that week. He didn’t. He also managed to escape a two-match ban in April, passing the amnesty by successfully keeping it clean when the Clarets came to Old Trafford. It’s proven that Harry can stay out of trouble and he should be as omnipresent in this England side as he was at United until the ankle injury.