Harry Maguire insists there are "definitely no cliques" in the England squad despite the altercation between Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez this week.

Sterling has been dropped for Thursday's Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro at Wembley after confronting England team-mate Gomez on Monday.

The two players had clashed the previous day, as Sterling's Manchester City were beaten 3-1 by Gomez and Liverpool, the Premier League leaders and the winger's former club.

Yet Manchester United defender Maguire is confident issues between players from rival clubs will not continue to dog England as they reportedly have in the past.

Asked at a pre-match news conference if there were any club cliques in the squad, Maguire replied: "No, everybody mixes.

"I think you've seen how good the unity in the squad is over the last couple of years. It's been a good two years and the group has grown together. We continue to keep on growing and that's really important.

"No, definitely no cliques. We all share tables and share jokes and laughs together."

England need just a point against Montenegro to qualify for the finals, where they would play a number of matches at their own Wembley home.

Maguire is hopeful, should the Three Lions' secure their progress, the home crowd can be a big factor next year.

"It would be really special to play in a major tournament and walking out at Wembley would be something that you dream of," he said. "People say it would give us a little advantage as well.

"We know that the crowd get right behind us at Wembley and the support over the last few years – especially since I've been playing – has been unbelievable.

"It's a big game [against Montenegro] and one that we're all looking forward to and we feel prepared for."

England's hopes at the Euros would also depend on improved defensive showings, though, with a number of individual mistakes hampering their qualification campaign so far.

Maguire added: "Obviously, we're coming off the back of a clean sheet [in a 6-0 win in Bulgaria], but we've conceded a few sloppy goals recently. I'm not proud of it and we're working hard on the training pitch to make that better.

"We know the firepower we have in our squad. We've got to a stage now where we're scoring near enough in every game, and we're creating problems for other people's defences.

"So my job and I'm sure all the rest of the defenders and the keepers as a group, we'll try to shut the shop up and start keeping clean sheets a lot more regularly."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer backed Harry Maguire to be the club's captain in the long-term after wearing the armband in Sunday's 3-1 defeat of Brighton and Hove Albion.

United cruised to a comfortable victory at Old Trafford against Brighton, with the visitors arguably lucky to avoid losing by a crushing scoreline.

Maguire led the team out as captain and put in a generally commanding display at the back, as he continues to look a solid acquisition following his reported £80million switch from Leicester City.

The centre-back was captain in the absence of Ashley Young, though Solskjaer suggested Maguire could potentially get even more familiar with the position in years to come.

"Harry has come in and been excellent in the dressing room and on the pitch," Solskjaer told reporters.

"He can be a long-term captain."

The one dampener on United's win was a late ankle injury suffered by Scott McTominay, as he appeared to roll his foot and was left in agony.

While he was able to hobble off the pitch aided by United's medical staff, after the match he was carried away on a stretcher.

But Solskjaer was unable to offer much of an update on his condition aside from being set for scans on Monday.

"He went over on his ankle," said Solskjaer. "It's a painful one sometimes.

"I've had one, I was out for eight weeks but then again sometimes you have one and you're back in two weeks. I don't know.

"He's in for a scan tomorrow and then we'll have to see, with the ice there. But it looked painful - Scotty's not one for rolling around.

"He didn't really roll around, because that's probably the sign he's injured. All the players that keep rolling aren't injured."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed Scott McTominay suffered an ankle injury in Manchester United's win over Partizan Belgrade, while he played down concerns over Harry Maguire.

United booked their spot in the Europa League last 32 thanks to Thursday's 3-0 win, which came thanks to goals from Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.

McTominay came off during the second half of the victory due to an ankle injury, while Maguire was also a worry.

But while he has fewer worries about Maguire, United manager Solskjaer confirmed some concerns surrounding McTominay.

"I think Harry will be okay. He finished the game anyway," he told MUTV.

"Scott is more of a concern, so let's see how he recovers in the next few days.

"He said he was going to be okay out on the pitch and he said 'I'll be fine'. He's tough, but he had to come off.

"I hope he'll recover for Sunday, but I don't know. Inside of his ankle. I think he went over on his ankle."

Sitting 10th in the Premier League table, United host Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday.

The win over Partizan gave Solskjaer's men a boost and the performance of his young attack featuring Greenwood, Rashford and Martial was particularly pleasing for the manager.

"The reason we put the three of them together is that we know they are a dangerous trio, with players behind them who can provide chances," he said.

"Well done to Mason for a very, very calm finish. He was composed and waited for the keeper. The second one was from Anthony and was probably the skill of the night.

"Then it was great to see Marcus finishing with his left foot. He will get into those positions quite often in a game. For him to go on the outside, on his left, it is not great for defenders to see.

"It is good for us because he can go inside on his right and then finish with his left."

Manchester United could be without Marcus Rashford, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof for Saturday's Premier League trip to Bournemouth.

All three players sustained knocks in the 2-1 EFL Cup victory at Chelsea on Wednesday, a result that stretched United's winning run away from home to three games in all competitions.

Rashford, who scored a penalty and then a stunning free-kick to seal the win, was seen with an ice pack on his knee after being substituted at Stamford Bridge, while Lindelof was replaced by Anthony Martial 66 minutes in and Maguire was seen limping in the closing stages.

When asked for an update on the trio on Friday, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told a news conference: "It's still early. Hopefully we can get them back on the pitch tomorrow.

"They had some treatment yesterday, a little more treatment today, a light session. Hopefully, they're ready. I can't tell you exactly now."

United will also be without Luke Shaw, Axel Tuanzebe and Nemanja Matic against Bournemouth, with Solskjaer not expecting them to be available until after the next international break.

"They are not ready for tomorrow. That's the update," he said. "[They will be back] Probably after the international break. That's always the risk, if you push them back too early.

"But if we have the two extra weeks, after the international break, they should be ready for then."

United head into the match in seventh place in the Premier League, ahead of Bournemouth on goal difference.

A win will move them to within four points of the top four before Chelsea's match away to Watford.

Harry Maguire was honoured to captain Manchester United for the first time in their 1-0 Europa League win over Partizan Belgrade.

The £80million defender was given the armband for Thursday's clash in the absence of Ashley Young and back-up skipper David de Gea.

Anthony Martial's penalty just before half-time was enough for United to pick up their first away win in 12 matches in all competitions, moving them top of Group L.

United were once again far from convincing on their travels, but Maguire was pleased to come away with a third successive Europa League clean sheet on what was a personal occasion to remember.

"It's a massive honour to lead the team out, especially such a big club like United," he told BT Sport. "I'm really proud, but more importantly I'm happy we got the clean sheet and the three points. 

"It was really important to get the away win - it's been a long time coming. We weren't at our best and it was scrappy at times, but we always knew our first away win would be one we had to grind out."

A clip of Maguire apparently forgetting his pre-match duties went viral, as the stand-in captain left Vladimir Stojkovic waiting, but he later laughed off the blunder on Twitter.

"Last time I did this, you did the coin toss in the centre circle #LetMeOff," Maguire posted, accompanied by a laughing face emoji.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer handed a full debut to James Garner and also started with fellow academy product Brandon Williams at left-wing-back.

Centre-back Phil Jones, one of the more experienced players on the field for United at 27 years old, was full of praise for the younger members of United's squad.

"I thought the pair of them were absolutely terrific," he said. 

"It's a hostile environment and the pitch wasn't the best - the pair of them can be really proud of themselves. They were a big reason why we came away with a clean sheet."

Harry Maguire is hopeful Manchester United will not have to experience a repeat of the "sickening" racist abuse that marred England's trip to Bulgaria when they visit Partizan Belgrade on Thursday.

United face Savo Milosevic's side in the Europa League after the Serbian outfit were forced to play their previous two UEFA home matches behind closed doors following "racist behaviour of supporters" when they hosted Yeni Malatyaspor in the third qualifying round.

The Group L game also follows Serbia's national team being hit with a two-game stadium ban – one suspended for 12 months – after a similar incident against Portugal in September.

Maguire played in England's 6-0 win over Bulgaria in Euro 2020 qualifying earlier this month, which was twice stopped during the first half after visiting players were subjected to racist chants.

Those stoppages formed part of UEFA's three-step protocol – whereby a match is first paused, then suspended for a period, before ultimately being abandoned on the third instance of racist abuse – but Maguire is confident the match in Belgrade will pass without any major incidents.

"We will trust UEFA to follow their protocol," he told a media conference. "Sofia was sickening and something I don't want to be part of again.

"We are confident tomorrow will be a positive atmosphere. If something does go off, we will follow the three-step protocol."

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer echoed Maguire's sentiments and has faith that UEFA will implement their protocol should racist abuse be heard.

"In the aftermath of what happened in Bulgaria, we had a meeting with the boys and we have gone through the protocol," he said.

"I believe in the good of people and the atmosphere will be fantastic. We trust UEFA and hopefully it will be a celebration of good football."

Solskjaer also reiterated United's stance on clamping down on racist incidents involving their own supporters after one was alleged to have engaged in abuse during Sunday's 1-1 draw with Liverpool.

"I'm happy the club have identified whatever you want to call him and it's something we feel strongly about," he added. "We will stamp down as much as we can."

When Manchester United forked out a reported £80million to sign Harry Maguire, the comparisons to Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk started almost immediately.

Van Dijk has been credited as one of the best signings of Jurgen Klopp's tenure, with the Reds becoming Champions League winners and genuine Premier League title contenders with the towering centre-back at the heart of their defence.

The arrival of Maguire, whose breakout performances for Leicester City in the 2017-18 campaign coincided with Van Dijk's switch to Anfield, was supposed to have a similar effect on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Red Devils.

United have struggled badly for form this season, though, and the pressure is on the team and Solskjaer to deliver a performance against the table-topping Reds, who have won eight from eight in the Premier League this term.

Ahead of Sunday's clash at Old Trafford, Omnisport has crunched the Opta numbers behind Van Dijk and Maguire's statistics dating back to the former's move to Liverpool in January 2018.


VIRGIL'S A WINNING MACHINE

Prior to Van Dijk's arrival, pundits and fans alike were calling for Klopp to sign a commanding centre-back. Many baulked at the reported £75m Liverpool paid Southampton for his signature, but that fee looks a snip when you look at the impact Van Dijk's arrival has had. He has played in 60 Premier League games since signing, winning 45 of those and losing just four – giving him an astounding win percentage of 75. In the same time period, Maguire has played fewer matches – 56 – winning 19 and losing 25, with a win percentage of 34.


NONE SHALL PASS!

Earlier in the season, much was made of Van Dijk's astonishing run of Premier League games without being dribbled past. Arsenal's Nicolas Pepe eventually ended a stretch of 50 dating back to March 2018 and incredibly it has happened just three times to Van Dijk since January of the same year. Maguire has been caught on his heels nine times in the same period, but both players are remarkably consistent when it comes to errors leading to goals – each committing just one gaffe that resulted in the ball rattling the back of the net.


CLEAN SHEETS AND A CLEANER DISCLIPINARY RECORD FOR VAN DIJK

One statistic that really does leap out is Van Dijk's exemplary record when it comes to receiving yellow cards. Incredibly for a centre-back, he has been cautioned just twice since January 2018 and is yet to see red in the Premier League for Liverpool. Conversely, Maguire has 10 yellows and one red in the same period. Van Dijk is just shy of clean sheets in half of his games, keeping shut outs in 29 of 60 matches – with Maguire having 13 in 56. Teams Maguire has played in have also conceded double the amount those including Van Dijk have, 76 to 38. At the other end, each player has contributed but Van Dijk also holds the advantage in that regard with five goals and two assists to Maguire's respective three and zero.


HOW'S THIS SEASON SHAPING UP?

As you would expect, Van Dijk's numbers in the early stages of the Premier League campaign are pretty impressive. He has a flawless win percentage through eight games, although he has conceded in six of those. Encouragingly for Maguire and United, while the team are struggling his statistics compare pretty well to Van Dijk's with as many clean sheets and just two more goals conceded. Maguire has also only been dribbled past once compared to Van Dijk's two, while neither player has yet committed an error leading to a goal or even a shot.

Harry Maguire is working on becoming more vocal but is not concentrating on the prospect of becoming Manchester United captain.

United agreed a reported £80million deal with Leicester City last month to make Maguire the most expensive centre-back of all time.

The England international has already been talked up as a future skipper by boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after making a steady start to life at Old Trafford, even if results have been disappointing.

However, Maguire is aware that he needs to improve on certain aspects of his game if he is to be considered for the role further down the line.

"It's something I still want to improve on, my leadership qualities on the pitch and, especially, my talking," he told United's official website.

"I want to demand more from the players, demand standards, but I'm obviously not concentrating on that at the moment.

"I am fully focused on improving the team and getting this club back to where it should be."

Maguire has been used regularly since joining in the close season, playing alongside Victor Lindelof in every minute of United's Premier League campaign to date.

Solskjaer's men lost 2-0 at West Ham last weekend to make it six goals conceded in those six matches, but Maguire is confident he will build up a better understanding with his new team-mates.

"My game will improve the more I know them and the more experience I have of playing with them - the position they take up, the way they want to receive the ball and the areas in which I receive the ball," he said.

"So I know where my team-mates will be, without having to look and try to find them.

"It will improve and I'm sure I'll improve throughout the season, playing with my team-mates more and improving my relationship with Vic. We will improve as a team as well and we've got to improve."

United are 11th in the Premier League ahead of their meeting with Arsenal on Monday.

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