England manager Gareth Southgate has dropped Harry Maguire following his conviction in Greece, just hours after selecting and publicly backing the Manchester United captain.
The 27-year-old was the main talking point on Tuesday afternoon when the Three Lions boss named him in his squad, despite an ongoing court hearing on the Greek island of Syros.
Maguire was arrested along with two others, including brother Joe, in the early hours of Friday after an alleged incident in Mykonos, with the defender appearing at a hearing the following day in neighbouring Syros.
The world’s most expensive defender was not at the subsequent court case on Tuesday, when he was found guilty of assaulting a police officer, swearing, resisting arrest and bribery by a Greek court.
The verdict and 21-month suspended prison sentence came just four hours after the England international was called up by Southgate, who had phoned the centre-back to ascertain the facts and establish if he was in the right frame of mind to be called up.
But the conviction – something Maguire vowed to appeal against – has led the Three Lions boss to pull the defender out of the squad for next month’s Nations League double-header against Iceland and Denmark, with the PA news agency understanding there is unlikely to be a replacement called up.
“In light of this evening’s developments, I can confirm I have withdrawn Harry Maguire from the England squad for the matches against Iceland and Denmark,” Southgate said in a statement.
“As I said earlier today, I reserved the right to review the situation.
“Having spoken to Manchester United and the player, I have made this decision in the best interests of all parties and with consideration of the impact on our preparations for next week.”
While Maguire says he and his two co-defendants remain “strong and confident regarding our innocence in this matter”, Southgate’s decision to initially select him in these circumstances is sure to be pored over in the coming days and weeks – something he admitted would likely be the case regardless out the outcome.
“There are numerous decisions you have to take and it would be the same for club managers I am sure,” he said prior to the conclusion of the court case.
“But the profile of this job is different. The expectations are different and the analysis of the decisions is different.
“I have to live with that, have to live with the consequences of that – that’s the role and I understand the responsibility it brings.
“I won’t get everything right, I have said that before, but I will always try to be fair and make the right decisions and ultimately, my primary job is to make sure we have got a team that can win. My job is to turn England from fourth in the world to number one in the world.
“The hunger for the team to succeed and do well is greater than ever. So that means I have got to be even more careful with a decision like the one I have taken because it can’t just be based on the fact he is an important player for us.
“That is why I needed to consult with other people in the organisation to make sure I was not being influenced by my desire for the team to do well.”
Southgate also conceded that, on occasion, outside factors would have to be considered in potentially naming a weakened squad – but insisted it was not possible to pick a winning team based on good behaviour alone.
“When I talk about the culture, in the main, it’s about what we need to build as a team when we’re together,” he added.
“Of course I can’t ignore off-field events and events that happen away from our camps but I also can’t just pick a team to win based on the best behaved XI. It’s just not realistic.
“If you look at some of the greatest competitors in the world and winners in every sport, they are not always easy to manage and they are not perfect. And none of us are.
“My job is to pick an England team to win. I’ve got to balance what the line is on that.”