Harry Maguire: England defender declares himself fit to face Scotland at Euro 2020

Manchester United defender Harry Maguire has not played since injuring his ankle against Aston Villa late in the Premier League season; Gareth Southgate's side play Scotland on Friday following a win over Croatia in their Euro 2020 opener

Harry Maguire (PA) 0:30
Gary Neville thinks Harry Maguire's first game in the Euros cannot come in a knockout game, so they must use him somehow in the next two group matches

Harry Maguire has declared himself fit and available for England's eagerly-anticipated European Championship clash with Scotland.

The 28-year-old centre-back is an established part of Gareth Southgate's side, having played a key role in England's run to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals in Russia.

But Maguire's availability for this summer's Euros has been in doubt since sustaining a high ankle sprain on May 9 after Aston Villa's Anwar El Ghazi landed awkwardly on him.

The defender missed the rest of United's season, including sitting out the Europa League final, and was not ready for Sunday's Group D win against Croatia.

Maguire has been progressing ahead of schedule though, and last week he returned to full training, putting him in contention for Friday's clash against Scotland.

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Harry Maguire has returned to training with the rest of the England squad for the first time as he continues to recover from injury

"I feel good, I've been training now," the centre-back said.

"Obviously the injury was a setback club football wise. Internationally I wanted to come into this with a lot of games under my belt with full fitness, but I feel good. I'm back available, been training and I'm looking forward to it."

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Asked if he was desperate to start on Friday, he said: "Yeah definitely. Obviously it's a big game. I've done a few sessions now and feel like my fitness is there, so, like I say, I'm available for the game."

Maguire feared missing the Europa League final and Euros as soon as the injury occurred, but the focus soon turned to strengthening the ankle after the "freak accident".

"It's about building the confidence every day, and the only way you can do that is by training and playing games," he said.

"You can do as many rehab sessions as you like, but when you're not playing that competitive football you can't build that confidence, especially when it's an ankle or knee injury.

"So it's just about more training sessions and games in training, games whenever they come and the confidence will keep going.

"I'm sure it will niggle me for a few weeks and months. I haven't had one before, but from speaking to players and physios, I'm sure it will be niggling.

"But as long as it's stable and the pain is bearable then I'm sure I'll be fine."

Maguire does not feel like there is any more risk returning than there would be recovering from any injury, insisting he feels fit and fresh for Friday.

"I think throughout a career in football if you didn't play through pain you would probably spend more time on the sideline than you would on the football pitch," he said.

"I have done it throughout my career and so has everyone else who plays week in, week out.

Marcus Rashford has leapt to the defence of England team-mate Harry Kane after a low-key display against Croatia. 0:41
Marcus Rashford has leapt to the defence of team-mate Harry Kane after the England captain put in a low-key display in the Euro 2020 opener against Croatia

"The thing for me is I haven't had an ankle injury before so I couldn't gauge the pain or stability. That is down to the physios and we do tests day in, day out.

"We firmly believe that it is in a good place stable wise and when it is a good place stable wise that is the priority and I am all good to go."

Maguire also says he came to England with United's blessing, admitting he was "nowhere near ready to run, turn or twist on it" at the Europa League final despite being named on the bench.

"I was in every day seeing the physios and the manager Ole (Gunnar Solskjaer) has been great with me," the United skipper said.

"He wouldn't hold me back if he thought I was fit the first, second or third group game.

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Aaron Ramsdale says hearing the national anthem at Wembley on Friday will be an emotional moment for him, following the goalkeeper's call-up to the England squad after Dean Henderson was forced to withdraw due to injury

"He said 'go and enjoy it, make sure it's right obviously'. We have been in constant contact and the club has been brilliant with me."

Southgate kept in regular contact with Maguire, who always felt he had a part to play as the focus turned fully on facing rivals Scotland.

"Of course it is a big game," Maguire added.

"Any game in the Euros is a massive game, putting Scotland in there as well is huge.

"It is going to be a great day, a great occasion for the country to get together and push us forward and try our best to go and get the three points and perform on the day.

"It will only be a great day if we get the three points and then I am sure we will enjoy the occasion."

Gary Neville: Maguire must play before knockouts

Gary Neville insists England defender Harry Maguire must play before the Euro 2020 knockout stage to have a chance of featuring in the tournament.

"I think Tyrone Mings did really well - it was an important match for him. Looking at John Stones and Mings as a partnership before the tournament, you would have concerns against the best teams.

"I know people have dismissed Croatia after the game, but not many were dismissing them before the game, so I would still say that's a really good win for England against a good team.

"I think the reason Kieran Trippier played at left-back was his experience and know-how, meaning Mings had experience either aside of him.

"If Harry Maguire can get back to a level, he will come back in. But if he comes back in, I think if it's not against Scotland, it has to be against Czech Republic. You couldn't make Harry Maguire's first game back a knockout game.

"Maguire must surface in the next two matches, otherwise I fear you won't see him in the tournament, and it would be Stones and Mings to continue."

Record-breaker Bellingham hungry for more

Jude Bellingham is preparing for his next England assignment after making international football history in the 1-0 win over Croatia on Sunday.

At the age of 17 years and 349 days, the Dortmund midfielder became the youngest player to feature at a European Championship.

Bellingham replaced captain Harry Kane with eight minutes remaining at Wembley, where he battled on after a knock and faced Croatia star Luka Modric.

"I got a bang to the head as well that really hurt but I was just trying to do my job," he told Lions' Den in the build-up to Friday's clash with Scotland.

"I was thinking 'don't you dare let them get back in the game while you're on the pitch' so every ball that was there to be won, I just tried to go through it and get it back for us.

"(Modric) was probably the highlight for them, he had a really good game. You're watching him from the sideline thinking 'how would I approach it coming against him?'

"In a minute, you're against him and you kind of just have to work it out as you're on the job. I thought I'd done alright so I've just got to keep it going."

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