'He's NOT fifth choice': Erik ten Hag rejects Harry Maguire claim

‘He’s NOT fifth choice’: Erik ten Hag insists Harry Maguire DOES have a future at Manchester United but wants the out-of-favour captain to ‘fight’ for a starting place at Old Trafford

  • Erik ten Hag has insisted Harry Maguire isn’t Man United’s fifth choice defender
  • The United captain has made just 15 appearances for the club this season
  • But team manager Ten Hag believes Maguire’s future at the club ‘is up to him’ 

Erik ten Hag has challenged out-of-favour Harry Maguire to force his way into a starting role at Manchester United and insisted that the skipper isn’t the club’s ‘fifth choice’ centre-back.

Maguire has seen his minutes slashed at Old Trafford since Ten Hag’s managerial takeover and has gone from being a regular starter last season to a consistent benchwarmer under the Dutchman.

The 29-year-old has made just 15 appearances in all competitions this season, starting just four Premier League matches during the club’s rise to fourth in the league standings.

Harry Maguire isn’t Manchester United’s fifth-choice centre-back according to Erik ten Hag

Maguire has regularly been on the bench for United this season after dropping down the defensive pecking order

United boss Ten Hag wants Maguire to ‘fight’ for a starting place amongst the club’s talented defence

Speaking ahead of United’s FA Cup clash with Reading on Saturday, Ten Hag backed the England international to return to form but insisted it is ‘up to him’.   

‘No, he’s not fifth choice,’ said Ten Hag. 

‘But it’s up to him. I have to say he’s training very well, bringing quality and that is what I expect from all the players in the squad.

Ten Hag insisted Maguire’s selection is ‘up to him’

‘He has to fight for his position and things can change, sometimes also really quickly. I think he is making progress and it’s up to him.’

Such suggestions that Maguire is fifth-choice come with Luke Shaw, Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez, and Victor Lindelof all being selected ahead of him in recent matches. 

Maguire starred at last year’s World Cup with England, despite struggling to find minutes at club level, impressing during the Three Lions’ run to the competition’s quarter-final exit.

The United skipper was expected to continue his run when he returned to Manchester but found himself again relegated to the bench with Ten Hag preferring to use left-back Shaw alongside Varane.

Martinez’s return from Argentina’s World Cup winning celebrations marked a further drop down the pecking order for Maguire, with the Englishman starved off regular football.

However, United’s Dutch chief has insisted that a poorly-timed illness was to blame for Maguire’s post-world cup drop-off. 

‘After the World Cup, he should have played but then he got ill. I can’t do anything about that and he knows that.

‘Then you come in a run and he has to wait for his chance – I think those are the laws of football, from top football, from selection.

The England international has made just 15 appearances in all competitions this season for United

Ten Hag revealed Maguire (pictured) was set to feature regularly after the World Cup before picking up an illness

‘Then you have to wait for a change and in the meanwhile make sure you are ready if the chance is there.’

Maguire is expected to start against Championship side Reading in United’s FA Cup fourth round clash at Old Trafford on Saturday evening. 

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