Graeme Souness insists Harry Maguire is ‘more than capable’ of forcing his way back into Manchester United XI

    Harry Maguire
    Maguire has been dropped from Erik ten Hag’s XI this season (Picture: Getty)

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

    The club captain was dropped from the United XI following the dismal season-opening defeats to Brighton and Brentford.

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

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

    Martinez and Varane will not be available following 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 XI.

    And after his impressive campaign in Qatar with England, former Liverpool midfielder Souness believes the 29-year-old 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.

    Erik ten Hag
    Ten Hag could face a big dilemma at centre-half (Picture: Getty)

    ‘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 Victor Lindelof in the 2-0 win.

    United are still waiting to see if Maguire will be ready to return for the game against Forest on Tuesday with former defender Gary Neville fearing ten Hag will be facing a ‘big problem’ if the England man isn’t available.

    ‘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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