Euro 2020 is on the horizon and England manager Gareth Southgate will be well underway with his preparations for the tournament.
He will be working on formation, tactics, and squad selections, and has a big job to decide his final 23-man squad that will, once again, attempt to bring football home.
One big question around England’s team is in central defence. They have a ton of goalkeepers, wingers and forwards – but, at centre-half, they’re light.
It seems Harry Maguire is almost a certain to start at the tournament. The £80 million man has been solid in his debut season at Manchester United after being promoted to captain, and he will be leading the defensive line when England kick off their tournament at Wembley against Croatia on June 14.
But who will partner Maguire? We’ve had a look at the possible options.
Joe Gomez is seemingly leading the race to partner Maguire at the European Championships this summer. He has been a regular in the England squad for a while, now, but not a regular in Southgate’s XI.
Gomez’s problem was that he couldn’t get in the Liverpool team. That was because of the fine form of Joel Matip, although, thanks to the Cameroonian’s injury, a space for Gomez opened up.
Since he moved back into Liverpool’s back four he’s been brilliant. He and Virgil van Dijk have helped Liverpool keep 14 clean sheets in their last 17 games, so the 22-year-old is in fine form.
Joe Gomez. Rolls Royce. Seriously.#LFC
— David Maddock (@MaddockMirror) January 29, 2020
The fact he is regularly called up to the England team shows Southgate likes him. Now, with Gomez in good form and playing regularly, it will be hard to come up with an argument for the former Charlton man to not feature at the back.
The fact he can play at full-back is also a big plus for him. Versatility never hurt anyone.
Stones has been an England regular for a while, but there’s little arguing that he hasn’t reached his full potential (yet) or the heights we all thought he would reach.
He is still a very good player. He is excellent when it comes to ball playing, but has a bit more of a problem when it comes to physical forwards and is error-prone.
He wouldn’t be playing for Pep Guardiola if he was a mug. He was good in the 2018 World Cup, although he played in a slightly different role – a back three – and had a bit more protection.
John Stones is the most well-regarded rubbish defender I have ever seen.
— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 20, 2016
We think there’s little doubt he’ll go to the tournament, but whether he starts is a different matter.
Mings is a recent addition to the England setup and he’s had a solid start to his senior international career. He handled himself well in terms of performance and tackling racism in a tough visit to Bulgaria, and he hasn’t done anything to warrant a dropping.
He is also left-footed, which would allow a balanced partnership with Maguire.
A problem for Mings is that he plays at Aston Villa, who aren’t as strong a side as the likes of Liverpool (Gomez) or Manchester City (Stones). If big club bias is in Southgate’s mind, Mings’ chances may be limited.
Many have called for Coady to be called up to the England squad for a while, but he hasn’t been yet. He’s the Wolves captain and is an extremely reliable player. His problem may be that he too plays in the middle of a three and has little experience in a four.
Connor Coady should be locked down in that England squad
— Calum (@CalumWarby95) February 1, 2020
Tomori has an England cap and earned it after a great start to the season at Chelsea but he’s fallen down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge as of late. The Euros may come a little early for the 22-year-old, but he could yet have a successful international career.
Smalling’s England career looked dead in the water up until last summer, but a move internationally to AS Roma may have saved him. He was miles down the pecking order with England but fine form in Italy may earn him a late surprise call up to the England squad. Aged 30, though, Southgate may want to look elsewhere.
Any defender would look good next to VVD, TAA and AR. Not having this “Joe Gomez is England’s best centre back”, Chris Smalling has more of a chance of starting the euros than Gomez
— Lewis Tilley (@LewisTillayy) January 30, 2020
We’d place our bets that it will be Gomez and Maguire starting in defence against Croatia. There are, though, others in contention and, with plenty of time to go, many who could claim a spot in the XI. Let us know who you think should be England’s centre-backs.
Read More: See all the latest Euro 2020 betting tips and predictions ahead of the start of the tournament in June.
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