Harry Maguire was given the full support of Gareth Southgate despite his sending off costing England a 1-0 defeat to Denmark at Wembley.
On another night of indiscipline from the Three Lions, England had two players sent off for the first time in their history when Reece James was sent off for bad-mouthing referee Jesus Manzano after the final whistle.
But it was the Manchester United defender’s dismissal on the half-hour that proved crucial, just minutes before Christian Eriksen’s penalty settled the game.
“The first yellow was a challenge Maguire didn’t need to make and put him on edge, the second his momentum took him through,” Southgate said.
“He’s a great player and massive part of what we do. He’s got a lot sticks thrown his way, he’s got our full support.
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“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.
“He knows he will be criticised for this – to go down to 10 men is costly for the team. It threw a lot of plans out the window, frankly.
“When you’re a bit older you can rationalise it, and move forward from it. He’s experiencing it from the first time really.
“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. He’s got to keep going and the tide will turn.”
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Southgate added: “The first yellow was a challenge Maguire didn’t need to make and put him on edge, the second his momentum took him through.
For me, he’s a top player and a massive part of what we do. He’s having a period where he’s having a lot of stick thrown his way and he’ll have to deal with that, he’ll come through it, and he has our full support.
“We have total belief in him. He has been getting all sorts for a while from some people who should know better. None of us like to be the centre of that sort of storm.
“His profile has changed because of the club he plays at and the success he’s had with us, and is having one of those periods when everything is going against him. You have to hang in and it will turn.
Jordan Henderson intervened to try to pull Reece James away from the official on the final whistle but could not prevent him from being red carded for foul and abusive language.
Despite the red cards, skipper Harry Kane said he was “proud of the attitude,” adding on the James incident: “When as professional athletes, you lay your heart on the line and a few things don’t go your way, it’s part of the learning curve.
“I’m sure Reece will learn from it. When you’re going at 120 per cent and things don’t quite happen it’s frustrating.
“Maguire made a couple of challenges today that he’d love to have back, but it’s all part of the learning curve … he’ll be devastated but he’ll bounce back, you go through ups and downs.
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“I don’t think we have discipline issues. I can’t fault the boys. The fight and spirit after the sending off was truly a great thing to be a part of.”
England were still fuming against what looked like a soft penalty for Denmark when Thomas Delaney tumbled under minimal contact from Kyle Walker.
And Southgate added: “I don’t see the penalty at all, the less said the better. The referee has sent James off for dissent.”
“I was very proud of their performance. We were excellent for the opening period with 11 men, causing all sorts of problems down our right. Great interchange of play.
“The sending off alters everything, and the penalty afterwards, but after then we showed resilience. A great example of how to play with ten men pragmatically.
“Wait for the right moments to press and use the ball well when we could. The team defended as a solid unit.
“Their keeper has made an amazing save and I couldn’t be prouder, not only tonight but the last ten days.
“We’ve had to deal with any manner of changes, so we’ve come through as a resilient group.”
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