England defender Harry Maguire will be at the heart of Gareth Southgate’s defence in Wednesday’s Euro 2020 semifinal against Denmark, but he did not know if he would be fit enough to even make the squad after an ankle injury in May.
Maguire suffered ligament damage in Manchester United’s 9 May Premier League match with Aston Villa and missed the rest of the domestic season and his club’s Europa League final loss to Villarreal.
He missed England’s warm-up games and opening two matches in the Euros’ group stage but returned in the final group fixture with Czech Republic and has been alongside John Stones since then.
Asked if he feared he might have to watch the Euros on TV rather than be on the field, Maguire, who scored a header in Saturday’s 4-0 win over Ukraine, said there was uncertainty.
“I think with any injury, you don’t know how you are going to recover, you don’t know the rehab, if you are going to have a setback. Touch wood, I haven’t had any setbacks in rehab and it has all gone smoothly, all gone to plan and a little bit quicker than we all thought,” he told a news conference on Monday.
“Obviously to miss the Europa League final was disappointing and then I fully set my sights on making the Euros squad.”
The Yorkshireman said he did not know, when he was named in that squad, when he would be ready to return to action but is pleased with the way he has coped.
“It’s not like being thrown into a friendly match, it’s the European Championship, so it’s so demanding and the intensity of each game,” he said.
“So where it has gone and where it has been, I think that is great credit to the medical staff at Manchester United and England for the way they went about everything, the way they pushed me every day and obviously I am really proud of myself in terms of the way that I pushed myself as well.”
Maguire was part of the England team which lost to Croatia in the semifinal of the World Cup in Russia three years ago and says the memory of that loss is in the players’ minds.
“Losing the semifinal at the World Cup hurt a lot. So we need to make sure when it comes on Wednesday night we get a positive feeling rather than the one we got against Croatia.”