Erik ten Hag has challenged Harry Maguire to replicate his England form for Manchester United. Maguire has only started three Premier League games this season but excelled again for England at a tournament during their World Cup campaign. Ten Hag sent Maguire encouraging messages while he was in Qatar and felt the United captain played “really well, a really good World Cup. Really consistent and a good factor in the defending line for England.” Also read: United make decisions on five players’ contracts Speaking to the Manchester Evening News and British journalists prior to England’s quarter-final defeat by France, Ten Hag said: “I can only back him. I’ve been asked many times if he is good enough [to play for me] and it is clear he is good enough to play at the highest level. And then it is up to him to show that confidence on the pitch and he didn’t show that in all the games [for United]. “When he is playing with his confidence like now, he is a massively important player for us and that is what everyone expects. That’s what Harry expects from himself. “He has that high standard, he wants to play at the highest level, he wants to lead the defensive line, so it is up to him. I’m sure he has the potential to play in our style and fit into our system. “He has, for England, almost all the time good games. He had a period in Manchester where he performed badly and then, of course, there are difficulties but when he is confident in himself, he will put that on the pitch. When he is working hard you will get that confidence and you are seeing that with the way he is playing for England. “We want him to bring that back to Manchester with him so he can bring it on the pitch for Manchester United. I expect from him, the team knows what they expect from him. If he does that he will be a great player for us.” Maguire only started one Premier League game in the three months prior to the World Cup as Ten Hag settled on Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez as his first-choice centre-backs, with Victor Lindelof selected in the injured Varane’s absence. Varane replaced Maguire after the Brentford debacle Although Maguire missed seven games with a hamstring injury sustained in England’s Nations League draw with Germany in September, he was an unused substitute in United’s last two league fixtures at Aston Villa and Fulham. Ten Hag dropped Maguire after the 4-0 thrashing by Brentford in United’s second game of the season and recalled Varane for the uplifting 2-1 win over Liverpool. United have won two and lost three in Maguire’s five starts this term. “When I choose Rapha it is nothing against Harry,” Ten Hag stressed. “Sometimes it is because one player is a lot better than the other. But I think I have two or three good players there in the right centre-back position. “After Brentford, I chose. I had a feeling I had to change there – personal but I had to change the mentality. He was unlucky that moment was bad for him but it doesn’t say anything about his quality that he can’t do it or my opinion about his quality. “Rapha came in and is doing a good job. There are laws of the game in top football – you have to take your chance. Your chance will always come. Varane and Martinez have lined up regularly “The only thing he (Maguire) has to do is train well, perform well, he has games, he has rhythm and his chance will come. He will have a chance to show it and then he’s in and he will play. “That (rarely picking Maguire) was nothing against him. Varane and Lindelof, I’m in a good position because they are consistent and stable and our centre halves have a really high level.” When Maguire’s future was raised and Ten Hag was asked if he would not want to sell him, he replied: “Only when he doesn’t want to be in these circumstances any more. Until that moment, I am happy with him. I have said it to him and you, I can do nothing more. It is up to him to contribute to play himself into the team. “There are laws of the game. We have 16-18 players in the squad and that is what you need at the top level if you want to play for trophies. All the number of games we have to cover and then it is about the players who construct the best team, and that team we will pick. “It is nothing to do with being personal.” READ MORE: Ten Hag confirms he wants to sign a forward ‘He knew the consequences’ – Ten Hag hits back at Ronaldo Every word of Ten Hag’s interview on Ronaldo Ten Hag compares Rashford to Mbappe All the United news and views Story SavedYou can find this story in My Bookmarks.Or by navigating to the user icon in the top right.