Ferdinand identifies England’s ‘Achilles heel’ with Man Utd man facing ‘worst-case scenario’

Former Man Utd defender Rio Ferdinand looks at fellow pundits Credit: Alamy
Former Man Utd defender Rio Ferdinand looks at fellow pundits Credit: Alamy

Rio Ferdinand thinks Harry Maguire is going into the World Cup in a “worst-case scenario” as he looks to recover from injury and poor form.

The Man Utd defender has started just three Premier League matches this season with Erik ten Hag preferring Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane as his centre-back pairing.

He returned from injury recently to produce a good display in a 1-0 victory over West Ham in the Premier League with Varane ruled out until the World Cup.

However, Ten Hag has since started Maguire on the bench against Real Sociedad in the Europa League and their 3-1 loss to Aston Villa at the weekend.

And although Maguire has been “phenomenal” for England, former Man Utd defender Ferdinand is concerned that England will be relying on Maguire at the World Cup.

Ferdinand said (via The Sun): “Harry has not let England down ever. He’s been phenomenal for England.

“But his form has gone out the window for Man Utd. He’s not in the team, he’s got an injury as well.

“Going into a tournament, I couldn’t think of another worst-case scenario. I would be concerned about that.

“You can go in there with one, maybe, like that. But we’ve got [Kyle] Walker and Maguire in the defensive line who are potentially going to be going in there off the back of injuries and a lack of form.”

Ferdinand added: “He trusts him. It could be blind trust, I don’t know. But he does trust him. As a manager you’re going to go with what you know, with what you’re comfortable with.

“The problem he’s got is it’s not like he has four or five other candidates like in my generation where you’d be able to go ‘he’s out of form’ or ‘he’s not playing’ or ‘he’s injured’.

“I had Sol Campbell, Carragher, Woodgate, Ledley King, the list goes on. All of those players start today.

“I’ve always thought if you’re going to win a tournament, you’ve got to have a good defence.

“That’s where we’re probably at our weakest now. Even if there weren’t injuries or lack of form, I feel like that was our weakest area anyway.

“Walker, our quickest defender, out. Maguire, form and injuries. When you’re looking at it, you’re thinking, ‘What are we going to do?’ Is (Trevoh) Chalobah going to be ready? He’s playing really well. But last month it was (Fikayo) Tomori. Before that it was (Marc) Guehi.

“There’s no one in there that you go, ‘They jump out as the No 1 candidates to go and play’. So it’s very difficult. That could in the end be our Achilles heel.”

Despite his reservations about the current squad, the former Man Utd defender believes that England have to win the tournament to be seen as progressing.

Ferdinand continued: “If you base it on the last two tournaments of semis and then final, surely the progression has to be to win it.

“Anything less is going to be seen as a bit underwhelming because you are looking at the trajectory and the FA’s plans would have been that.”

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