Sheffield United: Harry can be a Lion again, says Conor

United defender Harry Maguire.
United defender Harry Maguire.
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Conor Coady sees no reason why Sheffield United defender Harry Maguire can’t force his way back into the England Under-21 set-up.

It was just over a year ago that Maguire, a graduate of United’s much vaunted youth system, graced the international stage.

The 20-year-old made his debut for England’s U21s in a friendly with Northern Ireland at Bloomfield Road. That remains Maguire’s only cap for his country but Coady is backing the highly regarded youngster to add to his tally.

“Harry is a top player,” Coady, who captained the Three Lions at last summer’s Under-20 World Cup, told The Star. “He is a big force in the team. He is a solid player and he’s chipped in with quite a few goals this season.

“Harry has played for England before so there is no reason why he can’t again. He is doing absolutely superb for us. It is up to him to keep his head down and carry on working hard.”

Maguire has made over 100 league starts for United since making his first-team debut in April 2011.

However, the Sheffield-born player came in for criticism from United manager Nigel Clough after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Gillingham at Bramall Lane. In the seventh minute of the League One fixture, Maguire under-hit a back pass to George Long, allowing Danny Kedwell to nip in and claim his ninth goal of the campaign.

“We’re trying to instil a mentality and attitude that we’re hard to beat and don’t give anything away early on in games and generally we’ve done okay with that,” said Clough. “Harry [Maguire] in particular has been immaculate in the last few weeks, but it was a bad decision from a young player and you end up 1-0 down.”

United have recorded one clean sheet in 16 league matches this term. That shut-out came on the road at promotion hopefuls Peterborough United. Clough is determined to rectify their defensive frailties.

“The majority of the responsibility falls on the back four and the goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet,” he said. “We need more communication and helping out of your teammates. Everything like that needs to improve.”

There were times last weekend where Shaun Miller looked back to his best following a long injury lay-off. The skilful striker is chasing his first goal since Boxing Day.

“It is massive for the team having Shaun back,” Coady, left out of the starting line-up against Gillingham, said. “Everybody knows what a good player he is.

“It is a huge boost for him and his confidence that he is starting games and playing well again.

“The more games and training sessions he gets under his belt, the sharper he will become. I think in a few weeks time Shaun will be there or thereabouts.”