What has happened to England's top centre-backs?

⚡️Get up to £100 in Bet Credits⚡️
Up to £100 in Bet Credits for new customers at bet365. Min deposit £5. Bet Credits available for us upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus


When looking at England’s latest squad selected by Gareth Southgate, it's easy to get excited with the wealth of attacking options available to the manager.

Spearheaded by captain and World Cup Golden Boot winner Harry Kane, there is plenty of flexibility for Southgate to work with, having the option to go with either a back three or back four and still have a genuine attacking threat.

Both Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford will expect to be in any starting XI picked by Southgate following their excellent form for Manchester City and Manchester United respectively. Both were also impressive in England’s win away at Spain at the end of last year, making a front three with Kane that was devastating on the counter-attack.

Off the bench, there are two highly-touted youngsters in Jadon Sancho and Callum Hudson-Odoi, with the latter receiving his first senior call-up before making his full Premier League debut. As for Sancho, he has been excellent for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga this season, scoring eight goals and providing 12 assists in his 26 appearances, 19 of which have been starts.

That’s without mentioning Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson, who has managed 10 goals for Eddie Howe’s side in the Premier League this season despite some recent niggling injury problems.

Dele Alli and Jordan Henderson are two regular midfield options, while Declan Rice and James Ward-Prowse have been called into the side by Southgate. Yet when it gets to the defensive options, Southgate doesn’t have quite so many quality options to choose from.

Sancho England

Injury problems

It's telling that he’s named six full-backs in this squad and just three centre-backs. At right-back, Southgate has chosen Kyle Walker, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier, while the opposite side options are Luke Shaw, Ben Chilwell and Danny Rose.

At centre-back, England have been left short of options due to injuries to John Stones and Joe Gomez, which could well have been the partnership Southgate went with in the upcoming games with Czech Republic and Montenegro. Harry Maguire will have had something to say about that, with the Leicester man being the most experienced centre-back in the current squad.

John  Stones England

Competing to start alongside him are Everton’s Michael Keane and Burnley’s James Tarkowski, with it fair to say that both players have been part of teams that have performed below expectations this season. The pair have seven caps between them, with Southgate electing to go with them two over the likes of Chris Smalling and Conor Coady.

Smalling hasn’t played for England since 2017 in the 2-2 draw with Scotland at Hampden Park, while Southgate has thus far gone against rewarding Wolves captain Coady for his good form at Molineux in the Premier League.

What defensive shape England go with on Friday remains to be seen, with the lack of centre-back options potentially seeing them return to a back three, putting right-back Walker back in as part of the back three. They could also stick with the back four which worked so effectively in the wins over Spain and Croatia in the Nations League, if he has faith in one of his two inexperienced centre-backs to partner Maguire.

There is also the option of using West Ham’s Rice at centre-back, the position in which he played throughout much of his youth career, though it is as a defensive midfielder that he has really flourished with the Hammers.

Harry Maguire England

England’s ‘Golden Generation’ never fulfilled their potential or lived up to the talent they ultimately possessed, with their defensive options at the time highlighting just how strong they were.

John Terry and Rio Ferdinand were often the main pair, but it's fair to say their reserves weren’t bad either. If Sven Goran Eriksson was without one or both of them, he could call upon the likes of Sol Campbell, Jamie Carragher, Ledley King, Jonathan Woodgate, Matthew Upson and even current boss Southgate as cover.

Now, the options aren’t anywhere near the same level of player and it is one area of the England squad where there doesn’t seem to be the same level of prospects coming through the ranks either.

The future is certainly bright for England, but at this moment in time and for the foreseeable future they look just a few injuries away from being extremely short of cover at the back.

Bet £10 & Get £40 in Free Bets! ☘️
New customers only, place a €/£10 bet on any Sports market - min stake €/£10, min odds 1/2 (1.5) & get €/£30 in free bets + a €/£10 free bet on in-play Horse Racing. Only deposits made using Cards or Paypal will qualify for this promotion. Free bets are valid for 30 days and must be used on a Sports market. After the the qualifying bet has settled, €/£30 in free bets will awarded automatically & in-play racing free bet will be available to claim from the promo hub. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus

Free Bets & Offers

🚀 Bet £5 Get £20 in Free Bets!
Claim Bonus
⚡️Get up to £100 in Bet Credits⚡️
Up to £100 in Bet Credits for new customers at bet365. Min deposit £5. Bet Credits available for us upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
🏆 Get a RISK FREE bet on any sports market up to £20 - money back in CASH if it loses! 🏆
New customers only, limited to one per person. If you’ve previously had a Paddy Power account, you will not qualify for the offer. Place your FIRST bet on any Sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is €/£20. Only deposits made using Cards or Paypal will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply. 18+|Gamble Aware.
Claim Bonus
Bet £10, Get £20 In Free Bets
New members only. £10 min deposit and bet, placed and settled at 1.50 min odds within 14 days of sign-up. Awarded as 2x non-withdrawable £10 Free Bet Tokens. Valid for 14 days. Sportsbook only. Click for full rules.
Claim Bonus
New customers only. Sportsbook bets only, minimum odds 1/5 (1.2). Refunds are awarded as CASH, up to a max of £20 . Only deposits made using Cards or Paypal are eligible. Qualifying bet must be placed and settled within 30 days of account opening. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
Bet £10, Get £30 FREE BETS!
18+. UK+IRE only. Promo code 'G30' required. Min first bet £10. Must be placed within 14 days of account reg. £30 credited as 3 x £10 free bets. Not valid with CashOut. Free bet valid for 7 days.T&Cs Apply.
Claim Bonus
🌟 Bet £5 & Get £30 in Free Bets 🌟
New customers only. Deposit and place a £5 qualifying bet add odds of 2.00 or greater within 7 days of opening a new account; excludes cashed out bets. Receive 2x £10 free sports bets, valid on set events only at odds 2.00 or greater, expires in 7 days, plus a £10 casino bonus, expires in 7 days. Wager the casino bonus 35x to withdraw winnings. Credit/debit card deposits only. Geographical restrictions and T&Cs apply. Please gamble responsibly.
Claim Bonus
Bet £10 on Football Get £40 in FREE BETS and BONUSES
New customers only. 18+, BeGambleAware.org. Minimum deposit £10. UK customers only. Place a £10+ bet on football of odds 1/1 (2.00) or greater to receive your 4x£10 in football free bets. Free bets will expire 7 days after your qualifying bet is settled. £10 Casino bonus will be credited the next working day after you have deposited. Casino bonus must be wagered at least 35x before any withdrawals can take place.
Claim Bonus
⚫️ £30 Welcome Offer! ⚫️
*New UK & Ireland customers only. Min Deposit: £10. First deposit matched up to £30. 1 x wagering at odds of 1.75+ to unlock Free Bet. Credit Card, Debit Card & PayPal deposits only. Full terms apply.
Claim Bonus
When The Fun Stops. Stop.