Despite Euro 2020 being postponed to 2021, the tournament will be at the forefront of Gareth Southgate’s mind. The Three Lions boss has the perfect headache in attack, where he has stacks of talent to choose from. Southgate’s biggest concern could be defence where England have at times looked vulnerable. We’ve put together a list of the five English centre-backs who are currently in pole position to feature at Euro 2020.
Top 5 English centre-backs
The Manchester United captain has been solid in the heart of Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer’s side’s defence this season. Arguably the former Leicester City defender hasn’t quite justified his £80million price tag but his performances have been typical of what you’d except from Maguire, no nonsense and one hundred percent committed. Maguire isn’t the most talented with his feet, however in the air he is one of the best in the country. He is presumably a certainty not only to make England’s Euro 2020 squad but also to start, especially after his fantastic World Cup in 2018.
A player who has led Brighton from League One all the way up to the Premier League, it has obvious to Brighton fans that their captain has been destined for the top. The English centre-back surprisingly only has one international cap to his name but his consistently solid performances whilst guiding Graham Potter’s side to safety and is finally getting the recognition he deserves.
Dunk is strong in the air, a true leader and his footwork is of a high standard too, all of which will be of great appeal to Gareth Southgate. The manager hasn’t really given the born-and-bred Brightonian a fair shot on the international stage, with many Brighton fans blaming that on a ‘big club bias’ and his Crystal Palace roots. However, his performances this year have been unmissable and many believe he is among the best English centre-backs available.
Now a Premier League champion, Joe Gomez has been key in Liverpool’s successes this season, both in the league and on the European stage. The former Charlton defender may not have been recognised as a standout performer, understandable considering he is partnering the best defender in the world in Virgil Van Dijk.
However, he has still been defensively sound and improves with every performance. Gomez has made the odd mistake but the 23-year-old has also contributed some crucial blocks and tackles to make up for those errors. If Gomez continues to improve alongside VVD next season then it would be no shock to see him add to his eight England caps next year, especially due to his versatility and good footwork.
Similar to Lewis Dunk, Burnley defender James Tarkowski has deserved to be involved with England more than he has to date. The ex-Brentford defender has been immense for the Clarets in the past few seasons. His ability to read the game and block shots has made him irreplaceable in the Burnley backline and the Englishman has played every single minute in the Premier League this season.
The Turf Moor outfit have kept 15 clean sheets this season, which is a real credit to Tarkowski and his fellow English teammates Ben Mee and Nick Pope. If Southgate is deploying a four man defence then Tarkowski should definitely be in the conversation. However, you’d fear that in a three-man defence the 6ft1 powerhouse’s lack of pace could leave him warming the bench in future England fixtures.
Former Manchester United defender Chris Smalling has revived his career with a loan to Serie A giants AS Roma. Since his move to the Stadio Olimpico, the English centre-back has looked a different player to the clumsy and awkward Smalling we saw at Old Trafford. Instead he looks full of confidence, is stronger than ever and his ability to read the game has improved drastically.
One would argue that the slower tempo of Serie A is playing to the strengths of Smalling. However, it is undisputable that his loan spell has put him back in the conversation for the England squad. Smalling has featured 31 times for England in his career to date. However, if he continues to show ability with the ball at his feet, spatial awareness and leadership in Italy then he may yet add to those caps.
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