England manager Gareth Southgate believes right-back is the most competitive position in his squad and has hailed the talent of Manchester United’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
The Three Lions return to action this month with European Championship qualifiers against Bulgaria and Kosovo as they look to take one step closer to next season’s tournament which culminates with a final at Wembley.
Southgate’s right-back options: Five things to know…
- Gareth Southgate named three right-backs in his 25-man England squad.
- Wan-Bissaka, Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold are the three options Southgate will have.
- There is no space for Manchester City right-back Kyle Walker.
- Southgate believes right-back could be his most competitive spot.
- The England boss has hailed Wan-Bissaka as the best one-vs-one defender in the Premier League.
Southgate recently named his 25-man squad for the two fixtures, naming three right-backs in Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kieran Trippier and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
The trio’s inclusion sees usual first-choice right-back Kyle Walker miss out, but Southgate insists this will be a chance to assess his options.
“It’s arguably our most competitive position on the pitch,” said Southgate.
“I think this is an opportunity for us to really have a look at the two younger boys in particular – I’ve spoken to Kyle about this.”
The inclusion of Wan-Bissaka has been the topic of a lot of conversation, with many believing the right-back was deserving of a call-up long before he finally made the squad.
There were also suggestions from fans that Wan-Bissaka was only considered after securing a big-money move to Manchester United.
But Southgate is adamant Wan-Bissaka’s delay was due to his commitments to the Under-21s, hailing the 21-year-old’s defensive capabilities in the process.
He added: “Trent had a fantastic end to last season and I think Aaron played very well last year, but we wanted to leave him with the Under-21s – his one-against-one defending is as good as I’ve seen in the league.
“All of our right-backs are a slightly different profile with different qualities, but we’re interested to see whether we can develop them as individuals.”
Wan-Bissaka has won 18 tackles in the Premier League so far this season, more than any other player, while also being dribbled past just five times in four games.
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Southgate: International games a chance to reintegrate Trippier
Southgate also hailed the international break as a chance for Trippier to re-establish himself in the England set-up.
The 28-year-old was a hero in England’s run to the World Cup semi-final in 2018 but endured a poor season at Spurs, ultimately losing his spot for the Uefa Nations League finals.
But Trippier is starting to find form once more for Atletico Madrid, something Southgate has been playing attention to.
“It also gives us an opportunity to reintegrate Kieran, who had some difficulties at the end of last season but is still a top player,” he said.
“He’s settled really quickly at Madrid – they’re very happy with him – so we wanted to bring him back in.
“But the main focus in that area is these two younger ones and now’s a good opportunity to invest some time in them.”