Manchester United defender Harry Maguire put in one of his better performances of the season on his return to the starting XI against West Ham.

The Red Club captain would likely have been back on the bench had Victor Lindelof been available.

But with the Swede not being considered for selection for the Hammers clash after breaking into his home during Wednesday’s game against Brentford, United’s number five returned to the squad.

The former Leicester City man had not started a Premier League game since suffering a chest injury against Burnley in the last game of 2021.

(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

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The England international came off the bench in a back three alongside Lindelof and Raphael Varane against the Bees in the final 20 minutes.

Back in the starting line-up alongside Varane for the crucial clash against the Hammers, Maguire faced one of the league’s fastest and strongest forwards in Mikhail Antonio.

But instead of seeing the tepid and indecisive Maguire, who we’ve seen with all too much regularity since his return from the European Championships, the 28-year-old appeared confident and composed.

Unlike under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, where the £80m man (BBC Sport) was back in the squad even when undercooked or suffering injuries, interim boss Ralf Rangnick has not been afraid to make big and bold calls make.

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It looks like the German’s approach was paying off as Maguire looked motivated and hungry to impress on his return.

Maguire was aggressive and tried to get his side on the front foot, throwing himself into tackles and taking on the challenge Antonio set.

But he also stepped out of defense while in possession and shot the ball to our wingers, adding pace and urgency to our game.

Only Scott McTominay (8) dominated in the air, winning more aerial duels than Maguire (5) according to WhoScored.

Manchester United vs West Ham United - Premier League(Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

Maguire had 99 touches against David Moyes’ side, more than any other player on the pitch. He attempted 86 passes at Old Trafford, 24 more than anyone else, completing 68 of those (79%).

He also made one tackle, one interception, four clearances and blocked a shot.

Match-of-the-day expert Danny Murphy felt Maguire’s return to the team was “really impressive”.

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN UTD-WEST HAM(Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

With Varane hopefully over his injury woes and showing signs of settling down in England, United need a solid and established centre-back partnership as we enter the crucial months of the season.

Varane and Maguire have only started six times this season and played 90 minutes together, but in those games we’ve won five and drawn one (Transfermarkt).

With bigger tests coming up from next month, United need Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane to continue their upward trend.

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