England’s Harry Maguire calls for cool heads in Panama clash

Harry Maguire has urged England to keep their composure regardless of any provocations from Panama when the sides go head to head on Sunday.

The Central Americans are known as a physically robust side and left Belgium manager Roberto Martinez unhappy about a number of full-blooded tackles when the Group G rivals met on Monday.

England are already preparing for a similar examination and have been cautioned by the coaching staff not to let tempers flare and risk a red card in Nizhny Novgorod.

Leicester defender Maguire is highly unlikely to be intimidated – standing 6ft 4in, weighing in at more than 15 stone and a veteran of countless tussles during his time with Sheffield United in League One – but he has stressed the importance of staying focused.

0:41 Wales' Chris Gunter has warned England to expect a physical Panama side

“Discipline is going to be a big part of the game on Sunday,” he said. “They might want to frustrate us or make people angry, but we’ve got to keep our cool and keep calm.

“If they are continuously fouling us, we can’t react in a bad way. Hopefully it’s going to be a good game and we can impose our attacking threat on them as well as the physical side, try to get the ball down on the deck and create chances that way.

“[But] I’m a big lad myself, so I feel I can handle myself in a battle.”

0:30 After giving away a penalty against Tunisia, England defender Kyle Walker questioned why VAR wasn't used in their World Cup opener

If any England players need a lesson in how to stay in control of their emotions, they need only look to captain Harry Kane.

He was repeatedly manhandled in the penalty area against Tunisia, reacting with restraint and earning his just rewards by scoring a match-winning double on Monday night.

“Harry was the perfect example,” said Maguire. “At every corner he seemed to be getting grabbed and wrestled, but he’s got away from his man twice, stuck two in the back of the net and won us the game.

“If we can all react like that it would be a perfect scenario.”

0:33 Midfielder Edgar Barcenas was seen crying at Panama's training base in Saransk. Panama coach Dario Gomez talked to the 24-year-old for five minutes while the rest of the squad trained

Maguire was the only member of England’s starting XI in Volgograd who did not play European football last season – a fact which earned him a commendation from Southgate for his mature performance on the biggest stage of his career.

His early years with the Blades may not have offered him the creature comforts of the elite academy scene, but they did imbue the 25-year-old with a strong backbone.

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“I’ve had a broken nose and a few black eyes – it’s part and parcel of the game, really,” he said.

“In League One, you get a lot more aerial battles and the ball is in the air a lot more than on the ground, especially in the winter with the state of the pitches.

“I’ve probably played at every ground in the country… tight, old-fashioned stadiums where the crowd are really on top of you.

“The long journeys are the ones you don’t look forward to. If it was Carlisle or something we’d be looking to leave at maybe 8am, depending on kick-off time.

“They’re long journeys back but they’re only good if you come home with three points.”

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