Competition for England right-back spot strongest ever with TWENTY options for Southgate playing top-flight football
FORGET the Gerrard-Scholes-Lampard dilemma, the current competition for the right-back slot is the strongest ever for one position in the England team.
It is pretty hard to comprehend Glen Johnson – no disrespect – started three successive tournaments between 2010 and 2014.
Because now there are as many as TWENTY England right-backs candidates playing top-tier football.
Southgate has at times even squeezed THREE right-backs into starting XIs such is the strength in depth in the position these days.
One of the most in-form from that group of 20, Matty Cash, has applied for a Polish passport because he knows he is unlikely to break into Gareth Southgate’s team.
The Aston Villa man possesses many of the qualities desired from the modern-day full-back but the reality is he could become Poland’s first-choice right-back for the next decade rather than dip in and out of Three Lions squads.
That is because experienced duo Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker are still firm favourites of Southgate while youngsters Trent Alexander-Arnold and Reece James are already just as capable – if not more so.
Atletico Madrid’s Trippier and Manchester City star Walker, both 31, have 97 caps combined and have delivered for England at the last two major tournaments.
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James, Trippier and Walker got the call-ups for the current international break but the Chelsea ace withdrew through injury while Alexander-Arnold is also sidelined.
But there are a whole host of English right-backs playing every week in the Premier League whose names are not even mentioned in the debate including Manchester United’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who could revert back to playing for DR Congo again.
Max Aarons and Tino Livramento are with Lee Carsley’s Under-21s while Tariq Lamptey and James Justin are both on their way back from long-term injuries.
Luke Ayling, Japhet Tanganga, Matt Lowton, and Joel Ward are all putting in solid performances under the radar.
At Southampton, Kyle Walker-Peters has moved across to the left to accommodate the arrival of exciting former Chelsea youngster Livramento.
Calum Chambers, Jeremy Ngakia, Jonjoe Kenny and Ryan Fredericks have all played at right-back this season but they are unlikely to be even on the long list for Southgate’s scouts.
And finally, Ainsley Maitland-Niles may be set on making it as a central midfielder but made his England debut at right wing-back 13 months ago.
England’s 20 right-back options
Kieran Trippier Club: Atletico Madrid | Age: 31 | Caps: 34 | Comfortable on right or left, LaLiga winner trusted by the manager in big games including Euro 2020 final
Kyle Walker Man City | 31 | 63 | Equally adept at full-back or wing-back, still a real asset to defence with speed and trophy-winning experience
Trent Alexander-Arnold Liverpool | 22 | 14 | Klopp and others rate him as No1 RB in the world going forward but Southgate still has doubts defensively
Reece James Chelsea | 21 | 8 | Has everything for a full-back in abundance and set to duel with TAA for years to come
Matty Cash Aston Villa | 24 | 0 | Emerging as top Prem talent but applied to play for Poland, homeland of his mother
Tariq Lamptey Brighton | 21 | 0 | Left Chelsea for Brighton in 2020 and thrived before injury struck, could still choose Ghana
Luke Ayling Leeds | 30 | 0 | Ex-Arsenal man closing in on 200 Leeds game but never had international experience at any level
Aaron Wan-Bissaka Man Utd | 23 | 0 | One of the best tacklers around and quick but lacks attacking threat, played for DR Congo at U20
James Justin Leicester | 23 | 0 | Versatile defender played across defence for Foxes before ACL injury wrecked Euro 2020 dreams
Max Aarons Norwich | 21 | 0 | Norwich and England U21 stalwart in recent years, confirmed no interest in representing Jamaica
Japhet Tanganga Spurs | 22 | 0 | Shone in Spurs academy and England youth ranks as centre-half, now enjoying new role, could also choose DR Congo
Kyle Walker-Peters Southampton | 24 | 0 | Ex-Tottenham man won U20 World Cup in 2017, now at left-back with Saints
Matt Lowton Burnley | 32 | 0 | Solid performer for Villa and Burnley over the years with occasional wondergoal in locker
Joel Ward Crystal Palace | 31 | 0 | Another reliable option in mid-table Prem team with 232 top-flight appearances
Jeremy Ngakia Watford | 21 | 0 | Ex-West Ham academy star now impressing for Hornets, has Congolese roots
Jonjoe Kenny Everton | 24 | 0 | A veteran of England youth ranks with 56 caps but not made step up to senior side
Ryan Fredericks West Ham | 28 | 0 | Ex-Spurs youngster now back-up to Vladimir Coufal with one U19 cap in 2011, could choose Guyana or Scotland
Tino Livramento Southampton | 18 | 0 | Enjoying fine season at St Mary’s, high hopes for the teenager with £40m Chelsea buy-back clause
Calum Chambers Arsenal | 26 | 3 | Compared to Cafu in March, seven years after his three senior caps at centre-back
Ainsley Maitland-Niles Arsenal | 24 | 5 | Handed debut at wing-back but is determined to prove himself as a midfielder
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