England

England's left back options - ranked

Declan Houten
By Declan Houten, Sean Walsh
England actually have options - though James Justin's injury rules him out of contention for now
England actually have options - though James Justin's injury rules him out of contention for now / Matt Burt/90min
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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. Gareth Southgate did not even select a 'natural' one in his most recent squad.

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.


13. Charlie Taylor (Burnley)

Charlie 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 relegation.

12. Brandon Williams (Norwich City - on loan from Man Utd)

Brandon 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 found life difficult in the Premier League, again, and Williams did little to help turn things around. Perhaps he'll have more luck in the 2022/23 campaign.

11. Ryan Bertrand (Leicester)

Bertrand has fallen out of favour for club and country
Bertrand has fallen out of favour for club and country / Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

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.

10. Rico Henry (Brentford)

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

Wing-back Rico Henry's performances have gone under the radar in what has been a great first season for Brentford in the Premier League.

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

9. Luke Thomas (Leicester)

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

Injuries to James Justin saw Thomas auditioning for the role of Leicester's left-back in the long-term.

Unfortunately, he just 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.

8. Omar Richards (Bayern Munich)

FBL-EUR-C1-BAYERN MUNICH-BENFICA
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 last summer.

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.

7. Aaron Cresswell (West Ham)

Aaron 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 who have twice knocked on the door of Champions League qualification, Cresswell has found his mojo and could get another crack at international level before he retires.

6. Tyrick Mitchell (Crystal Palace)

Tyrick 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.

He's already been capped once but he may have to wait a while for another.

5. Matt Targett (Newcastle - on loan from Aston Villa)

Matt 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.

Fortunately, his arrival at Newcastle on loan coincided with a huge upturn in form, and Targett is at the top of his game. Unlucky to miss out this time.

4. Kyle Walker-Peters (Southampton)

Kyle 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.

3. James Justin (Leicester)

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Justin has returned to the Leicester side this season / MB Media/GettyImages

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 had led to a call-up now he's back up to speed.

2. Luke Shaw (Manchester United)

Luke 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.

Shaw has endured a miserable season plagued by injury and inconsistency. Thankfully for him Southgate is loyal to his trusted lieutenants - but Justin could soon overtake him in the pecking order.

1. Ben Chilwell (Chelsea)

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

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

He may not quite be back to full fitness yet but 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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