England announced their squad for the Euro qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia next month earlier today, with the likes of Lewis Dunk, Ebrechi Eze, and Marc Guehi called up due to their recent strong form. There were also recalls for the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Tyrone Mings, both of whom had fallen previously out of favour.
When it comes to players who missed out, there were some notable absentees. Jadon Sancho and Raheem Sterling both missed out due to a lack of form at club level.
However, one player that was included was Harry Maguire.
Despite spending most of the season sitting on the Manchester United bench and then performing very poorly when he did feature, he was included in the squad.
The decision has not gone down well, with many feeling it was a case of clear favouritism from Southgate when a number of other more in-from centre backs were left out.
Darren Bent slams Gareth Southgate over Harry Maguire call-up
Darren Bent certainly feels that the inclusion was not justified.
Speaking on talkSPORT, the former England striker said the selection from Gareth Southgate was very difficult to stand over and could lead to problems within the squad a but further down the line.
😳 “It’s absolutely embarrassing.”
🤔 “Gareth is sending out the wrong message. How can he pick him??”
❌ “If I’m a player, it’s telling me that it doesn’t matter what I do…”@DarrenBent calls Harry Maguire’s latest England call up ‘embarrassing’ pic.twitter.com/9ttWcDPqtc
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) May 24, 2023
Embarrassing, absolutely embarrassing.
I get it, [Southgate] keep talking about 'this group of players, this group of players', but I think he's sending out totally the wrong message. There are certain members of the squad who have earned the right to be there and they're not in there.
Then they are other players in the squad like Harry Maguire, whose last three appearances were Sevilla where we know what happened in that game (lost 3-0), he didn't do too bad at Forest when he beat them, then he played 45 minutes against Sevilla when it came off his head and went in.
I just think he has no form whatsoever. How can Gareth pick him? For me, it's sending the complete wrong message.
If I'm a player playing really well for my club side, I'm thinking 'Gareth has got his favourites, so it doesn't really matter for me what I do in that position'.
It's difficult to argue with that.
When it comes to Southgate, he continually preaches the importance of form, only to completely throw that out the window when it comes to certain players.
Of course, supporters of other nations will have absolutely no issue if he wants to start Harry Maguire in every England fixture for the next decade. They'd only love to see it.