It has been widely reported that Gareth Southgate is set to axe Gary Cahill from the England squad following losing his place and form for Chelsea. His performance in the 4-1 defeat against Watford saw him heavily criticised as his positional sense and pace were shown to be lacking. Cahill who at 32 years old may have seen the World Cup as his last chance to play at major championships and will be devastated if that is true. Southgate in recent friendlies has been experimenting with a 3 at the back but with the emergence of central defenders it has meant Cahill has fallen too far behind. John Stones has improved under Pep Guardiola and his mistakes have become less frequent. The likes of Harry Maguire and Joe Gomez have showed themselves to be athletic and also good enough on the ball to play in Southgate’s system. Ben Mee/Lewis Dunk and Jamaal Lascelles have all been star performers for their club and would probably more likely warrant a place in their squad than Cahill. Gareth Southgate, as a centre back himself, will be looking to work with these players so that they can prevent errors like the ones when Iceland shocked England at Euro 2016.
Southgate seems unconvinced by Chris Smalling ability to play out from the back. However, his return to Manchester United first team and playing regularly with Southgate-favourite Phil Jones will make it hard for him to be dropped. Throw in the fact that Eric Dier will be chosen to play midfield and will offer versatility that he can play in a back three. England do have lots of options now in this position, however, none of these centre backs are close to the ability that the likes of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand had.
Cahill is a leader of some sorts and England really are lacking natural leaders. His absence will mean the only leaders in this England squad are Harry Kane and possibly Jack Wilshere.With Joe Hart likely to be a peripheral member and Wayne Rooney retired, Southgate will be putting his faith into the English youth. Southgate will be hoping the “no-fear” mentality of youth will surprise people in Russia.
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featured image credit Sky Sports