Harry Maguire says poor club form may be affecting England defence

England’s disappointing defeat in the Czech Republic could have been down to a number of players heading into the international break in poor club form, according to Harry Maguire.

After Friday’s 2-0 defeat, England have conceded eight goals in their previous five matches. In that time, Southgate has only selected the same back four once.

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Maguire, who played alongside Michael Keane, Danny Rose and Kieran Trippier in Prague, has been the only mainstay in the defence since November and is keen to find a solid back four.

Asked if there was a lack of confidence among the back-line Maguire replied: “Yes, maybe.

“We bring our club football into international level. It was a difficult game. Don’t get me wrong, we started sloppy. We took the lead in the game but we didn’t deserve to.

“The second half we controlled the game a lot more than the first half but we gave them a sloppy goal to win the game. We do need to improve on that.

“Obviously you are wanting to develop partnerships. Sometimes in international level you can’t really do that.

“You have players who aren’t playing for their clubs so they don’t get selected, and you have players that pick up injuries.

“You’ve got to adapt. That’s one of the tricky parts of playing international football, every camp you’re normally playing alongside different players – you don’t want to be – and need to develop new partnerships.

“But listen, there’s no excuses. We need to be better than Friday night. We need to be better going forward. We need to be better on the ball. And we certainly need to be better at keeping the ball out of the net.”

England could have sealed their qualification for Euro 2020 with a win on Friday. But they can still qualify on Monday if they beat Bulgaria and Kosovo fail to win against Montenegro.

Southgate had success with England at the Russia World Cup in 2018 – taking them to a first semi-final in 28 years – using a back three and admits he could revert to that system.

“I think we are in a difficult situation in terms of the players that have played international football with us in that area of the pitch and who are playing regularly with their clubs,” Southgate said.

“So, that’s part of the reason we didn’t do that [against the Czech Republic].

“It’s certainly something we’ve considered and I don’t think we can dismiss.

“I’m not sure, ahead of Monday, if that’s the right thing to do but we’re very aware and assessing those things.”

Asked if there is enough time to implement a defensive switch in system before Euro 2020, Southgate said: “I think so, I think players take in tactical concepts very quickly, especially top players.

“So, we have to keep reflecting on what’s working, what’s possible and learn from every experience we have.

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