England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has heaped praise on teammate Harry Maguire after his superb showing against Iran in their World Cup opener.
The Manchester United centre-back came into the 2022 tournament in Qatar with a host of question marks over his head but you wouldn’t have known it on Monday afternoon.
A torrid time with the Red Devils and some shaky performances in recent internationals even saw some fans boo the undeserving player.
He’s played just nine club games all campaign with many feeling a lack of match fitness should push manager Gareth Southgate into a change.
Instead, he continued as a trusted starter for the 6-2 win and not only was the 29-year-old solid in his defensive duties he made a huge impact across the pitch.
His passing was excellent throughout while on several occasions he progressed forward with the ball, moving England into dangerous areas on the left side.
And the Everton shot-stopper reiterated how essential he was in the victory ahead of a huge Group B clash with USA on Friday night – live on talkSPORT.
Asked about Maguire’s performance, Pickford said: “Really good the other night with the first goal with the pass and then the assist from the set-piece, and he maybe could have got us a penalty early on with the VAR decision that went against us.”
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And Pickford believes his excellent spell between the sticks for the Three Lions is partially down to having Maguire ahead of him.
The pair have played together 35 times with the national team since 2017, winning 22 times and losing on just nine occasions, with three of those via a penalty shoot-out.
So while some may feel Maguire shouldn’t have started, Pickford is delighted he has been able to renew a fruitful partnership as they look to win the World Cup.
“We’ve got a great relationship,” he added. “I think the majority of my caps have been with Harry playing infront of me.
“We work really well together and I think the defensive record we’ve had with Harry playing there is really good as well.
“He’s in a very good moment. Harry is a [legend] and really good to work with.”
Another man impressed by Maguire was ex-Engand international Gabriel Agbonlahor who insisted any doubters should apologise.
Agbonlahor thinks those who doubted him now owe him an apology.
He told talkSPORT Breakfast: “For me, Maguire was outstanding. When the team got announced I looked through Twitter and all it was was ‘I can’t believe Maguire is starting’.
“I was thinking to myself, all those people who doubted him should apologise. Harry Maguire was outstanding. A threat in the air in the attacking box, defensively he was solid.”
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