Jamie Carragher believes that Manchester United defender Harry Maguire has an easier time playing for England due to the slower pace of international football.
The Three Lions managed an impressive 6-2 win over Iran in their World Cup opener in Qatar with Maguire earning plaudits for his performance.
“I think the fact that it’s a slower pace I would say at international level helps Harry Maguire,” said Carragher in his Sky Sports News column.
“He will be disappointed with the goal of course,” he said of Mehdi Taremi’s first strike.
“He got a little bit too tight to his man who finishes the goal, but you’re just glad that when he came off that it was just illness.”
Maguire’s importance to England on the international stage stands in stark contrast to his form at club level, where the United captain has lost his place to summer signing Lisandro Martinez.
For Carragher, a combination of a slower game when playing against nations, England’s general lack of alternatives in his position, and Maguire’s threat from set pieces are the factors that keep him key to Gareth Southgate’s plans.
“I think the fact Harry Maguire and John Stones are together – Stones has been playing at right-back a lot for Man City this season while Harry Maguire’s been in and out of the Man United team – they are still England’s best pair. So that shows the strength in depth at centre-back is maybe not what we want, so it’s imperative that we get Harry Maguire back on the pitch.
“You look at the last World Cup, we got so much success from set-pieces and Maguire was a big part of that. Every time that ball comes in if it’s anywhere around him you feel is a good chance of something happening – he should have had a penalty in that first game.
“That’s really where England have excelled in the last couple of tournaments set-piece-wise, especially four years ago, so if England are to do well again in this tournament you’ll need set-pieces and they looked really on point on that first game, so hopefully that can continue.”
With England facing the USA this evening, Maguire will once again be relied upon by Southgate as England look to record their first ever competitive win over the Americans.
He did well to set up Bukayo Saka with a knockdown to double England’s lead against Iran and will be hoping to provide a similar threat today.
With the exception of the mistake mentioned by Carragher for Taremi’s first goal, Maguire looked solid defensively, although one could argue that with Iran seeing just 22% of the possession, he had scarce little to do.