England’s meeting with their oldest and fiercest rival — which is being played to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the first international between the nations on November 30, 1872 — is their first friendly in 18 months, since back-to-back wins over Switzerland and the Ivory Coast in March 2022.
Southgate faced criticism for sticking with senior players Jordan Henderson, who is now playing in Saudi Arabia, and out-of-favour Manchester United defender Harry Maguire in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Ukraine in Euro 2024 qualifying, but he was expected to make changes against the Scots.
The England manager says he “can’t fiddle around” with the team against Steve Clarke’s in-form side, who could become the first nation to reach next summer’s Euros if other results go their way today.
The move has led to many questioning how the defender is being consistently picked for the England squad over other players when he is not regularly playing for Manchester United.
What is the row over Harry Maguire?
Southgate has repeatedly told the press and fans that he picks players for the England squad based on merit and how in-form they are at that given moment in time, which has led some fans to be confused by a couple of his choices.
Is Harry Maguire playing for England XI against Scotland?
Maguire was picked for the Ukraine game last week, in which England drew 1-1, despite making just a single appearance so far, when he came on as a substitute in the second half in their 3-1 defeat to Arsenal last weekend.
Why isn’t Harry Maguire playing for Manchester United?
There has been no official statement on why Maguire has seemingly been dropped, but it is rumoured that he is not favoured by Red Devils boss Erik ten Hag.
Manchester United accepted a £30 million bid for Maguire in the summer from West Ham, but the deal fell through.
The 30-year-old has slipped down Erik ten Hag’s pecking order after being stripped of the captaincy and is now fourth choice at Old Trafford.
Once it was clear the defender was not moving on, Ten Hag told a press conference he was “happy “ and said Maguire would have to fight for his place in the first team, like “everybody else”.
He said: “Harry is a player for us, I’m happy he’s here, and we need a good squad.
“We have four good centre-halves, with Luke Shaw then we have five. We need that because we could go on to play 50-60 games this season.
“All the players are internationals, we have a lot of fixtures to cover, so I’m very happy Harry Maguire’s here. He has to fight for his position, as does everyone in the squad. We construct a squad with double positions, but we need it.”
What has Gareth Southgate said?
After the 1-1 draw with Ukraine, the England manager praised his defence, but skirted away from being officially asked about the Maguire saga.
When asked about his centre-backs in the game, he collectively backed the duo of Maguire and Marc Guéhi, but chose to single out Guéhi’s performance.
He said: “Yeah, [they were] very good. And especially for Marc [Guéhi]. That’s a really great test for a young centre-back in one of his first qualifying games for us [England].”
Previously, Southgate has backed Maguire, and hinted that overlooking him for Manchester United would only become a problem if the issue is ongoing.
He previously said: “Of course, he’s a very experienced player, and he’s looked very good in training. Harry knows where our support is.”