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England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford says his compatriot Harry Maguire deserves much more respect.
As reported by the Mirror, the England number one believes criticism is part of football, but his teammate “needs to be respected a lot more.”
Both Pickford and Maguire played as the Three Lions opened their 2022 World Cup campaign with a 6-2 victory against Iran.
The goalkeeper played the full 90 minutes, with the centre-back playing 70 minutes before being replaced by Eric Dier.
— England (@England) November 23, 2022
England defender ‘needs to be respected a lot more’
England boss Gareth Southgate came under fire for picking Maguire in his 26-man World Cup squad. The criticism came amid the defender’s lack of playing time for Manchester United.
Maguire has played just four Premier League games for his club this season. But the centre-back started for England against Iran, and looks set to remain one of Southgate’s regulars at the back.
“Part of being a footballer is being criticised, as everyone gets criticised in football, but of course he needs to be respected a lot more,” said Pickford.
“But Harry is mentally strong and takes it really well. I think it’s a bit unfair but his performances on the pitch show why he has so many caps for England and is captain of Man United.
“Harry has done unbelievable. There was a pass for the first goal, then the assist with the set-piece and he maybe could have got us a penalty.
“Myself and Harry have a great relationship. The majority of my caps have been with Harry playing in front of me and we work really well together.
“Our defensive record with Harry playing there is really good as well and he is in a very good moment.”
Pickford praises Three Lions attackers
Pickford also took a moment to praise England’s forwards, who were undoubtedly in fine form against Iran.
Bukayo Saka netted a brace in the win, with Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish also on target. Midfielder Jude Bellingham also found the back of the net.
Speaking of England’s attackers, Pickford said: “They are unbelievable – each and every one of them. If we are doing shooting drills, attacking drills, they are ruthless.
“Sometimes, you can’t save them but you are up against the best so when you do save them you feel good about yourself and you have a buzz.
“Top strikers in the world like Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford get the best out of you really.”
England ‘leader’ Harry Kane passed fit for USA test
England’s next game is a Friday meeting with the USA, who drew their opening game 1-1 with Wales.
Kane’s availability for Friday’s game was once in doubt, with the striker picking up an injury to his ankle in the match against Iran. But he looks set to have shaken off the knock, and could play a key role in the game with the USA.
Pickford explained just how important the forward is to the England squad, saying: “Harry is an unbelievable player, he sets the example in the squad, he’s a leader, he’s the captain and we all look up to him.”