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Gareth Southgate faces Harry Maguire dilemma

The Manchester United defender has pleaded not guilty to charges in Greece and is back in the UK.

Harry Maguire (file pic).
Harry Maguire (file pic).
Image: PA

GARETH SOUTHGATE will name his first England squad in over nine months on Tuesday — with the potential inclusion of Harry Maguire the main talking point.

The Manchester United defender is awaiting a court hearing in Greece following his arrest on Friday.

Maguire, 27, has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is back in the UK in the wake of the incident on the island of Mykonos.

England face away trips to Iceland and Denmark to begin their postponed Nations League Group 2 campaign.

The game in Reykjavik on 5 September is followed by a trip to Copenhagen three days later — with both matches to be played behind closed doors due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.

Southgate has no obligation to leave out players from United, Manchester City or Chelsea despite their European fixtures that ran in August.

While the three sides have had adjusted starts to the 2020/21 Premier League campaign, the likes of Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Kyle Walker or Mason Mount could still be called upon.

It also presents the prospect of maiden senior call-ups for players such as Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden, who impressed when the season resumed following the halt caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The chances of Maguire joining them in the squad are slim given his current circumstances as he fights against charges following his arrest.

The United captain will not be appearing in court for Tuesday’s hearing in Syros but the PA news agency understands his legal team will be led by an Athens-based lawyer appointed by the club.

It is believed the expectation is that there will not be a verdict on Tuesday – more likely the case will be heard and then adjourned to continue at a later date, with the actual charges issued by the state prosecutor against Maguire and his two co-accused also due to come to light.

Southgate has always been keen for his players to hold themselves well and take their position as role models seriously.

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He most recently dropped Sterling from a Euro 2020 qualifying clash with Montenegro following a training ground bust-up with Liverpool defender Joe Gomez.

Southgate, meanwhile, is not expected to name a bloated squad for the Nations League opening double-header.

Captain Harry Kane is likely to be included despite being forced to miss the start of Tottenham’s pre-season, having had to isolate after a holiday in the Bahamas.

Some new names may force their way into the squad given more established internationals may yet be given a break by the England boss.

As well as Greenwood and Foden, Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka could receive a first call-up – the 18-year-old having enjoyed a fine second-half to the campaign under Mikel Arteta.

The winger-turned-full-back is also eligible to represent Nigeria and a cap in either game would mean he is then tied to England for the remainder of his international career.

His chances of inclusion could be boosted by the fact left-backs Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw are expected to miss out through injury — as are Liverpool midfield duo Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Jack Grealish, fresh from playing a major part in keeping Aston Villa in the top-flight, could be another benefactor of those injuries as he aims for his debut.

There could also be a long-awaited recall for Southampton striker Danny Ings, who finished the season with 22 Premier League goals — just one short of golden boot winner and former England man Jamie Vardy.

Ings, 28, picked up his solitary senior cap to date in October 2015, just months after his switch to Liverpool, as he came on as a substitute in a Euro 2016 qualifying win over Lithuania in Vilnius.

England have not played since their 4-0 Euro 2020 qualifying win away to Kosovo on 17 November.

The European Championships due to take place this past summer were moved to 2021 in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, with England playing their three Group D games at Wembley — which will also host the semi-finals and final.

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