Opinion

England's left back options - ranked

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, 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.


14. Brandon Williams (Manchester United/Norwich City)

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 are proving to be one of the most useless sides to ever grace the Premier League, and Williams is doing little to help change that perception.

13. Rico Henry (Brentford)

Rico 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, sure, but having basically started the Bees' maiden Premier League campaign as a winger, it'd be nice to see him tested a little more the other way before we think about a senior England call-up.

12. 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 caught up with him, and he's been unable to oust Luke Thomas and Timothy Castagne from Leicester's starting lineup since his move to the Midlands.

Speaking of which...

11. Luke Thomas (Leicester)

Luke 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 is more reliable than Bertrand, so it's not all bad.

10. 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.

9. Fabian Delph (Everton)

Fabian 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, but now that he's starting to get more minutes under his belt again, would represent a fine experienced option for Southgate to call upon should he see fit.

Hasn't played that much at left-back since leaving Man City, mind.

8. 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.

But with only 32 top-flight starts to his name thus far, we would just like to see a little more from the young man before he gets a shot with the Three Lions.

7. James Justin (Leicester)

James 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.

Poor lad. Fortunately he has enough stock from last season to keep him seventh in this ranking and he's back soon, so, every cloud...

6. 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 in the 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.

5. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)

Bukayo Saka
Saka has played all over for England / Pool/GettyImages

One of the most intriguing youngsters that England have produced in years, Bukayo Saka actually isn't a left back.

Well, he started off as a left back, moved to wing back, played in central midfield and then flipped over to the right wing. Got it? Good.

Saka was used in a more advanced role at Euro 2020, but if Southgate is feeling rambunctious, I'm sure he could move him back towards his own goal if necessary.

4. Matt Targett (Aston Villa)

Matt Targett
Targett has had a mixed year / Visionhaus/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.

Quite the contrary, Targett was decent on loan at Fulham, and that prompted Dean Smith to take him to Villa Park. He's been very steady since he arrived, though he's far better going forward than he is the other way.

3. 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 has sort of come out of nowhere, not least because Cresswell, after a promising start to his Premier League career, has been downright dire for the majority of the last few years.

But the man who, crucially for Southgate, can also play on the left side in a back three, has played himself right back into contention for an England spot by helping West Ham knock on the door of Champions League qualification.

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 had ended the year as the best left-back in the Premier League.

And yet after all that work climbing back to the top, after battling from every setback, Shaw has begun the 2021/22 campaign in calamitous form, so much so that even his England place is no longer assured. Eesh.

1. Ben Chilwell (Chelsea)

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

Thomas Tuchel has seemingly decided that his Chelsea side should rely on their wing-backs to score goals for them, and Ben Chilwell has certainly benefitted from that.

After a mixed first season at Stamford Bridge in which he was dropped for Marcos Alonso, Chilwell has claimed his starting berth back and heads into the upcoming international break as England's best option in this position.

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