Maguire has been dropped from Erik ten Hag’s team this season (Photo: Getty)

Graeme Souness has backed Harry Maguire to break Manchester United’s first choice between Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane.

The club captain has been left out of the United XI following dismal season opener defeats to Brighton and Brentford.

Varane and Martinez, signed in the summer, would form a good partnership at centre-back, keeping the England international at bay. Maguire was sidelined with a hamstring problem in September and early October, but has been limited to just five starting appearances in all competitions this season.

The former Leicester City star missed out on United’s victory over Burnley in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, but managed to qualify for the Premier League game against Nottingham Forest on December 27.

Martinez and Varane will be unavailable after their World Cup seasons with finalists Argentina and France, which could offer Maguire a chance to squeeze back into Erik ten Hag’s starting eleven.

And after his impressive season in Qatar with England, former Liverpool midfielder Souness believes the 29-year-old will keep his place in the team until 2023.

“I have to say I’m happy for Harry Maguire too,” Souness wrote for the Daily Mail.

Ten Hag could face a major dilemma as a central defender (Photo: Getty)

“He was slandered a lot during the tournament by people who find it easy to criticize him. He’s much better than some people would have you believe.

“He had a really good World Cup and the challenge for him now is to oust one of the middle halves at Man United, Raphael Varane or Lisandro Martinez. I think he’s more than capable of that.”

Maguire’s absence against Burnley saw Casemiro fall back to center back to join forces with Victor Lindelof in the 2–0 win.

United are still waiting to see if Maguire is ready to return for Tuesday’s game against Forest. Former defender Gary Neville fears ten Hag will face a ‘big problem’ if the Englishman is unavailable.

“They look like they have a big problem as a central defender,” Neville told Sky Sports.

“Martínez looks like he will be out for at least a few weeks, Varane is clearly injured and you don’t know when he will be back and if Harry Maguire is ill they can walk away with a very weak defense for Eredivisie matches.

“I think if they had played against a Premier League team tonight they would have been penalized, so they need to get some players back quickly.”