Harry Maguire thinks that defenders should be allowed to mark their opponents closely without fear of giving away a soft penalty. Photo: Hannah McKay/Reuters

Referees should not penalise players for making contact with their opponents inside the penalty area unless it is a legitimate foul, Leicester City defender Harry Maguire has said.

Maguire, 26, believes defenders should be allowed to mark their man closely without the risk of conceding a "soft" penalty.

"It's up to the laws as to what is deemed soft, but I don't think you can outlaw all contact in the box because that's how you defend," Maguire was quoted as saying by The Guardian. "You get tight to your man and try to use your strength.

"I do believe there still has to be some contact in the game because if you are not bumping into your man at a corner you are not getting tight enough.

"A little push or a nudge should not be enough for a penalty, but being silly by grabbing someone round the neck is obviously different."

Maguire, who is currently with the England squad for their European Championship qualifiers, will miss Leicester's next game after he was sent off for fouling Johann Berg Gudmundsson in the fourth minute of their 2-1 win at Burnley last weekend.

Maguire did not complain about the decision as he was the last defender when he fouled the Iceland winger who was through on goal.

"As soon as I heard the whistle I knew it was a red card," Maguire added. "I've heard people saying it was harsh because I didn't mean to touch him but the rules are clear.

"He was going clear on goal and I clipped his heels. The referee got it right." 

Reuters