Tuesday, May 24

England’s left back options – ranked

When it comes to full backs, it would be fair to say England are a little bit lopsided.

So, you like right backs, eh? Well, have all the right backs in the world!

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We’ll even stick some of them at centre-back for some reason we’ve got so many. Reece James has had to play some of the best football of his career just to get into the conversation, and there’s so much quality competition that Aaron Wan-Bissaka has almost entirely given up on an England berth.

Left backs more your thing? Well…the news isn’t quite as good, though things are gradually improving.

There’s a bit of quality and a bit of promise, but compared to the other flank where you’ve got about five or six Champions League standard players banging on the door, the talent pool is much less straightforward. Instead, the options are those who are yet to entirely breakthrough, and veterans who likely played their last England game some time ago.

Here’s an exhaustive list of the runners, riders and outside shots for a left-back spot in the Three Lions squad.

Fabian DelphFabian Delph

Delph has struggled with injuries in the last couple of years / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Fabian Delph’s spell at Everton has been plagued by injuries – so much so that we’ve barely seen him during 2021/22.

In fact, he’s spent so long out of action that we’re barely able to remember that he was a semi-regular at left-back for Manchester City once upon a time.

Brandon WilliamsBrandon Williams

Williams has struggled since an impressive breakthrough with Man Utd / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/GettyImages

After falling down the pecking order at Man Utd, Brandon Williams agreed to join Norwich on a season-long loan.

Unfortunately for him, the Canaries are finding life difficult in the Premier League, again, and Williams is doing little to help turn things around.

Crazy fact: Ryan Bertrand has been playing professional football since 2006.

Sadly, father time has started to catch up with him, and he’s been unable to oust Luke Thomas and Timothy Castagne from Leicester’s starting lineup since moving to the Midlands.

Rico HenryRico Henry

Henry has looked solid at the top level so far / Craig Mercer/MB Media/GettyImages

While a lot of talk following Brentford’s promotion has been around Ivan Toney, wing-back Rico Henry’s performances have gone under the radar.

He’s been great, but having basically started the Bees’ maiden Premier League campaign as a winger, he may need to spend more time as a conventional full-back before Southgate considers him.

Charlie TaylorCharlie Taylor

Taylor has been a Premier League regular for several years now / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Despite having a reputation as part of the revolving door of agricultural Burnley defenders, Taylor has some experience of international football – having been capped for England Under-19s after his graduation from Leeds’ famed academy.

The solid left-back is unlikely to get a call up, mind you, owing to Burnley’s pretty ordinary 2021/22 form.

Luke ThomasLuke Thomas

Thomas has quietly established himself at the King Power Stadium / James Williamson – AMA/GettyImages

Injuries to James Justin have seen Thomas auditioning for the role of Leicester’s left-back in the long-term.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t quite have the quality that Justin does, but is at the very least a decent Premier League footballer and appears to be more reliable than Bertrand.


Richards moved to Bayern in the summer / TOBIAS SCHWARZ/GettyImages

After proving to be too good for the Championship with Reading, Omar Richards bagged himself a move to Bayern Munich in the summer.

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He’s going to have to be special in order to oust Alphonso Davies from the starting lineup, but in the cameos he’s had for the Bundesliga champions so far, Richards has looked the part.

Tyrick MitchellTyrick Mitchell

Mitchell is only 22 / Chloe Knott – Danehouse/GettyImages

Former AFC Wembley youth player Tyrick Mitchell has quietly established himself as one of the Premier League’s better defensive full-backs since breaking into the Crystal Palace first team.

Southgate likes giving opportunities to young players so there’s no reason to discard a player flourishing under Patrick Vieira.

James JustinJames Justin

Justin sustained knee ligament damage last season / Michael Regan/Getty Images

A serious knee injury ended Justin’s 2020/21 campaign just as he was forcing his way into England contention.

Fortunately he has enough stock from last season to keep him high up in Southgate’s thoughts, and his return to action could lead to a call-up once he’s fully up to speed.

Kyle Walker-PetersKyle Walker-Peters

Walker-Peters has been brilliant at left-back / Robin Jones/GettyImages

Kyle Walker-Peters is a right-back by trade, but the outstanding form of teenager Tino Livramento has seen him shift over to the left side for up and down Southampton.

It’s not a move that has phased the former Tottenham star one bit, and he’s managed to keep Romain Perraud out of the side despite that being his favoured role. Superb going forward and at tracking back, Walker-Peters’ impressive versatility won’t have gone unnoticed.

Matt TargettMatt Targett

Targett is impressing at Newcastle / Dan Mullan/GettyImages

There was a bit of scoffing and laughter when Aston Villa signed Matt Targett, as many presumed that his inability to dislodge Ryan Bertrand at Southampton meant he wasn’t that good.

He proved to be a good acquisition for the Villans, looking tremendous going forward at times, but the arrival of Lucas Digne meant he was on the move again in January.

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Fortunately, his arrival at Newcastle on loan has coincided with a huge upturn in form, and Targett is at the top of his game.

Aaron CresswellAaron Cresswell

A rather impressive comeback story / James Williamson – AMA/GettyImages

If there’s one thing everyone in the world can agree on, it’s Aaron Cresswell being a bloody brilliant player to have in your Fantasy Premier League side.

His resurgence sort of came out of nowhere, not least because Cresswell, after a promising start to his Premier League career, had seen his level dip over the past couple of years.

Now playing in a West Ham knocking on the door of Champions League qualification, Cresswell has found his mojo and could get another crack when injuries open up a space.

Luke ShawLuke Shaw

A moment that will live forever / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Luke Shaw secured his place in English football history by becoming the first player since Sir Geoff Hurst to score for the Three Lions in a major final.

It capped off an incredible season for Shaw, who ended the year as the best left-back in the Premier League.

Roll on a few months and the tables have turned for Shaw – who is struggling in a Manchester United side unable to deliver any kind of consistency. His place is in the England squad is secure, but perhaps only because of the serious injury suffered by…

Ben ChilwellBen Chilwell

Welcome back to the top, Ben / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

…Chelsea full-back Ben Chilwell.

A huge beneficiary of Thomas Tuchel’s wing-back system, Chilwell was in terrific form before picking up a serious knee problem in the Champions League.

Nevertheless, he’s England’s best option and is a dead cert to be going to Qatar this winter if he’s fit and available.


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