Harry Maguire insists England now have belief that was missing at 2018 World Cup as they target first major final since 1966

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 (The FA via Getty Images)
(The FA via Getty Images)

Harry Maguire says England have more belief ahead of tomorrow’s Euro 2020 semi-final against Denmark than they did before the defeat by Croatia at the same stage of the World Cup.

Gareth Southgate has said England will no longer be content with merely a semi-final spot after their unexpected run in Russia three years ago.

Maguire, one of the veterans of 2018, admitted England lacked belief ahead of their 2-1 defeat by Croatia in Moscow but says the squad is now in a “much better place” to reach a first-ever European Championship Final.

“We’ll have more belief going into the Denmark game than we did in the Croatia game,” said Maguire (left). “We hadn’t been to a semi-final in so long as a country, so the belief wasn’t there.

“I’m sure the fans are believing more now. As players, of course, and staff and everyone involved in the bubble, we’re all believing as well.

“I think we are in a much better place than we were. The experience of that [semi-final], we would have learned from and the experience of the games in between, for example the Nations League.

“We have had a lot of big games in that period to improve on, a lot of time spent together on the training pitch and friendlies and qualifiers.

“Every game we play together we feel we are going to improve. I think you have seen in this tournament from first game to the Ukraine game, there have been a lot of differences in the principles we are demanding of each other. Of course we are in a better place now but we still have a long way to go.”

England lacked composure and struggled to retain possession against Croatia but have never lost control during a seamless run to the Euros semi-final.

Maguire said: “Could we have been a little more brave or composed [against Croatia]? And take the ball when we were leading the game, rather than sit back and soak up the pressure?

“Is that something we could have done better? Of course we’ve looked at it over the three-year period and for sure we’re in a better place now than when we played Croatia.”

Southgate has not kept the same side for consecutive internationals since the Croatia game and the manager could shuffle his pack again.

A return to the back-three would match up with Denmark’s system and likely see Kieran Trippier return to the side at the expense of Jadon Sancho or Mason Mount, while fit-again Bukayo Saka’s defensive qualities may appeal to Southgate.

Maguire was sent off in England 1-0 defeat by Denmark at Wembley in the Nations League last October in a wretched display following his arrest and court case in Greece.

Southgate stuck by the centre-back, including him in his squad in August shortly after the incident, and Maguire says he wants to repay the faith shown in him by the manager.

“Gareth’s support of me has been brilliant ever since I made my debut for England,” he said. “He picked me to make my debut and then I think ever since I’ve been available I’ve pretty much played in every game possible.

“That gives me great confidence and belief and trust going into the game to enable me to perform to my best. Every time I step on to the pitch I’m trying to repay the faith and the trust, because I want to do my best for the country.

“I had great support around me, great family, great friends, a great club who helped me along the way. It was a challenging time. I think every international player has been through ups and down in their career. That’s part and parcel of being a footballer. It was a challenging time but I am proud of the way I handled it, the way that I came through it.

“Now, I’m in a positive place, everything is good at the moment and long may it continue.”

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