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Man Utd star Maguire reveals he and Stones helped each battle back from nightmare spells to become undroppable forces

HARRY MAGUIRE has revealed how he and Manchester rival John Stones helped each other through nightmare periods in their careers.

Stones and Maguire are likely to line up for England in Albania on Sunday, having put behind them testing times and proved they are good enough to continue at the top level.

At Old Trafford, United captain Maguire went through a crisis of confidence on the back of an alleged assault while on holiday last summer, coupled with a nightmare drop in form.

And across Manchester at City, Stones looked for all the world as though he was surplus to requirements having fallen completely out of favour at the Etihad.

But they both knuckled down and came through and are surely the defensive lynchpins England manager Gareth Southgate will rely on going into this summer’s European Championship.

Maguire, 28, said: “We spoke to each other through times where it was tough.

“We spoke when it was tough and we speak when it’s going well.

“I’m close with John. I want him to play as well as you can without winning matches, if possible.

“When you play centre-back especially, week in, week out, you’re going to have some ups, you’re going to have some downs, you’re going to be at fault.

“You’re not going to go through your career without being at fault for goals.


“You get scrutinised when you play in the Premier League, so you expect that.

“It’s about how strong you are mentally and how you can come through it.

“I’m pleased to see John is back playing and with confidence and playing really well - and for myself I feel exactly the same.

“You go through ups and downs and it’s about how you bounce back and believing in yourself and working hard and that’s only what you can do.”

Much of the struggles endured by Stones , 26, were in private, as he was so far out of the first-team picture at the Etihad last season he was rarely seen.

Maguire’s were experienced in the public glare following his arrest in Greece and a dismal start to the season for both club and country.

First came a shocking display as Tottenham hit United for six at Old Trafford in early October, followed by a sending off for two poor challenges in the first half of England’s 1-0 Nations League defeat to Denmark.

He looked like a player who needed to be taken out of the firing line for his own good - but it was then he received the kind of backing he really needed.

Maguire added: “Obviously getting the red card against Denmark was disappointing for myself.

“The support I’ve got from friends, family, and obviously Gareth and Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] at Manchester United, the faith they’ve shown in me and the trust they’ve shown in me to keep picking me, keep playing me.

When I’m available, I’ve always been selected in the England squad, so that gives me great confidence and I feel the trust with that.

“I think a big thing when you are going through downs, you know you’ll always come out if you keep strong, keep fighting and keep working hard.”

One of those who backed him was Stones, thanks to a friendship built on the back of a rivalry playing for Yorkshire foes Sheffield United and Barnsley as teenage prospects.

Former Blade Maguire said: “We always speak, away from football. John’s a good friend, I grew up playing against him when he was at Barnsley.

“We’re not far from each other where we actually grew up and lived and come through. We grew up playing against each other a lot.

“He was the year below me but when you formed in the Under-16s, when the 15s played the 16s, I ended up playing against him a lot.

“I always knew he had great talent he was always great on the ball, technically very good.

“And the rivalry always continued when I was at Sheffield United, he was a Barnsley.

“It was always a big game and the one we wanted to get the better of them on.

“You could always see from a young age, he was an excellent player, great ability on the ball and he’s shown that throughout his career.”

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