Harry Maguire has found it tough sitting on the bench for much of the season but the Manchester United captain’s only focus right now is trying to help the club win more silverware.
The Old Trafford giants made the 30-year-old the most expensive defender in history when forking out £80million to sign him from Leicester in 2019.
Maguire was named skipper within six months of completing his move to United, where he has endured his fair share of ups and downs since then.
Erik ten Hag confirmed the under-fire England defender would retain the captain’s armband under him, but this term he has gone from ever-present to squad player.
Maguire, who made just his sixth Premier League start of the season in Saturday’s 2-0 win against Everton, said: “Listen, I’m not going to stand here and say I love it, or that I like it. I don’t.
“I want to play every game and I have done for the last eight years of my career.
“Also, I have to respect the manager and his decisions and also respect how good the competition is at centre-back at this club. It is, and I believe that.
“Of course I want to play every game and I’m sure if you spoke to our centre-backs in their roles, they are all experienced and have played at the top level and will all be disappointed when sat on the bench. That is the same for me.”
Maguire has made 13 starts in all competitions this term for United – a period in which he has started nine games for England, including all five of their World Cup matches.
He was linked with a mid-season move but stayed put and lifted his first trophy in February after Ten Hag’s team triumphed in the Carabao Cup final.
Talk over Maguire’s future continues but his only interest right now is helping to add the FA Cup and Europa League to the trophy cabinet, as well as finishing in the top four.
“I will work as hard as I can in training and take every game as it comes as I’m sure I’m going to get numerous starts between now and the end of the season.
“It is not like I’ve not started. I’ve started the last two games before the international break against Fulham and Betis.
“It is not like I’ve been frozen out or not been involved. I’m still playing a lot of games but obviously as a footballer I want to play every game.
“But I’m sure every other centre-back in the dressing room does as well and the manager cannot play all four.”
Things have improved across the board under Ten Hag, whose preferred centre-back pairing is summer signing Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane, who struggled for fitness last term.
“This year I feel I am in a good place mentally, physically and every time I’ve started a game of football I’ve done myself justice and done well,” Maguire said.
“But I also understand we have amazing centre-backs at this club.
“It is good that we have all four of us and I’m sure between now and the end of the season we’re going to push each other and also going to be highly competitive for spaces.
“But you also have to make sure when you don’t get selected that you train well and make sure you are ready, and ready to fight and when you get that chance to take that opportunity.”