Peter Crouch has backed Gareth Southgate’s decision to name Harry Maguire in his England squad for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar, while also expressing a belief Jordan Pickford should remain as the Three Lions’ No 1. The showpiece tournament is due to commence in just over a week. Whether they can go all the way and claim glory, however, remains to be seen…
Maguire has endured a troublesome year, with the 29-year-old no longer a key player at Manchester United.
He’s behind Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane in Erik ten Hag’s pecking order, while Victor Lindelof also seems to have earned his manager’s trust.
Despite that, however, Maguire has been named in England’s squad for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.
Though he’s suffered at club level, the former Leicester and Hull star hasn’t let the Three Lions down since making his international debut back in 2017.
And Crouch, speaking to Express Sport, believes Maguire has earned the right to go the Middle East – despite his issues over the past year.
“Now, I think I think he’s had a difficult season,” said the former Liverpool, Tottenham, Portsmouth, Stoke, Aston Villa and Norwich striker.
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“But I don’t think he’s ever let England down. You know, I think he’s played a big tournament and always looks like a different player.
“I think what’s happened to him has been incredibly harsh. I think some of the stick is probably past the line. I feel a bit sorry for him.
“But what I would say is England and Manchester United, and the spotlight there, are two different things.
“I know there’s been lots of players over the years who have played for England and, you know, played a lot better for their clubs.
“And I think playing for England is probably a nice release for him from, you know, a lot of the difficulties he’s faced.,
“If there was somebody better they’d have taken an opportunity by now, but I don’t think anyone else has taken it.
“And I think he’s probably the best bet at the moment.”
Another player on the plane to Qatar will be Pickford.
Though Everton are facing yet another problematic season over at Goodison Park, their No 1 remains a trusted presence between the sticks.
And Crouch thinks Pickford should be England’s main goalkeeper at the World Cup, despite Nick Pope and Aaron Ramsdale also being part of the squad.
“Obviously, he went with Pope last time (for the 3-3 draw with Germany) he said.
“But I think Pickford’s experience in major tournaments, I think he’s definitely getting betterand I like it when he plays for England.
“It’s another case of you know, putting someone in you know, fresh and untried. Is it worth it?
“I don’t think he’s let anyone down at a major tournament and he’s got that experience which counts for a lot.
“So I think in the end, Southgate will stick with him.”
Crouch was part of an England squad that never delivered at a major tournament, with the Three Lions instead underwhelming.
But as the competition in Qatar creeps closer, he’s insisted he’s got no regrets.
“You know, I always look back on my career really fondly. I feel like really proud and privileged to have ever played for England,” he said.
“Of course like we had a team that was good enough to win a trophy and we didn’t manage to do it.
“But I still feel very proud to have represented our country at two World Cups and although they didn’t go as well as planned, for me personally is still a great achievement.
“I didn’t know whether I’d have a career in football let alone play at a World Cup so when I look back on it, I look back on it with a big, big smile.”
Crouch was speaking after teaming up with eBay to hold a football memorabilia raffle, where fans can get their hands on some iconic items.
All proceeds will go to charity, with Together for Short Lives and Rays of Sunshine both supporting seriously ill children across the UK.