England manager Gareth Southgate has explained the selecion of Harry Maguire in the Three Lions team ahead of the upcoming friendly matches.
The Man United captain has come under criticism in recent weeks over poor performances, and his selection caused even further debate on social media.
Southgate though says he never even considered dropping the former Leicester man due to his contribution to England's progress over the last four or five years.
“I don’t think it ever crossed our minds not to select Harry Maguire for this squad,” explained Southgate during the naming of the 25-man squad.
“He’s been a key part of the starting XI that got us to a World Cup semi-final and a Euros final. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s one of our best centre-backs.”
There was no Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho in the team, and the former England defender explained the reason.
“It's a difficult time for him (Rashford),” he admitted. “He's clearly not at his best.
“We know a lot about Marcus anyway; we know what he can bring to us, and hopefully he can rediscover that form we know he's capable of.”
“With the other attacking players in the squad, they are slightly ahead of him (Sancho) in our feeling,” added the 51-year-old.
“You can see the names there: Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe, Jack Grealish... if you look at the seasons they've had [it is hard to leave them out].
“Jadon, without a doubt over the last few weeks, his performances have improved with Manchester United, but it's an area of the field where we've got really big competition for places. And at the moment, we've got those guys slightly ahead.”
England are set to take on Switzerland and Ivory Coast in international friendlies on March 26, and 29 respectively.