Southgate springs to defence of red-carded Maguire

Soccer Football - UEFA Nations League - League A - Group 2 - England v Denmark - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - October 14, 2020 England manager Gareth Southgate looks dejected after the match Pool via REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - England manager Gareth Southgate leapt to the defence of Harry Maguire after the Manchester United defender was sent off 32 minutes into England's 1-0 defeat by Denmark in the Nations League at Wembley on Wednesday.

Maguire, whose off-field problems and poor club form have put his place under the spotlight, was shown a second yellow card for a lunging tackle on Kasper Dolberg having been booked for a worse challenge on Yussuf Poulsen.

It left England to play a tidy Danish side for more than an hour with 10 men -- a task made even harder when Christian Eriksen netted a penalty for the visitors minutes later.

"The first yellow was a challenge he didn't need to make and it put him on edge," said Southgate, whose side came back to earth with a bump after Sunday's win over Belgium.

"The second one is an interception. He's a great player and massive part of what we do. He's got a lot of stick thrown his way, he's got our full support.

"He just needs the reassurance that we have total belief in him. He's had to deal with all sorts, and from some people who should know better. When you're a bit older you can rationalise it, and move forward from it."

Maguire received a suspended 21-month jail sentence at a trial on the Greek island of Syros in August having been found guilty of assault and attempted bribery after being arrested while on holiday on Mykonos.

The 27-year-old was granted a full retrial after appealing against the convictions and played in United's first three games of the Premier League season, including the 6-1 home defeat by Tottenham Hotspur in the last match before the international break.

"He's had setbacks but his profile has changed in the last couple of years because of the club he plays for and the success he's had with us," Southgate said.

"He's got to keep going and the tide will turn."

It was an ill-disciplined night for England with Reece James sent off after the final whistle for confronting the referee, blotting his copybook after an impressive full debut.

Chelsea's James became the first player to be sent off on his first international start for England.

England have now had three players sent off in the current Nations League campaign.

"That's a lesson he's got to learn. He had an incredible debut, he's impressed me all week. Until that moment he'd showed great maturity," Southgate said.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)

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