Central defence is a burden on this current England squad and for coach Roy Hodgson, filling the gaping hole between ‘old’ and ‘new’ is vital. Out the retirement door went Rio Ferdinand and John Terry. Before them, Sol Campbell, Tony Adams and Martin Keown. All world class defenders in their heyday.
Nowadays, the pressure is on Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka, who seem to be the first choice at the heart of the back four. Both are good players, but not quite world class like those mentioned above. Cahill, who was at fault for Kenny Miller’s goal against Scotland at Wembley, has put in some good displays for Chelsea since. Against Bayern Munich in the Super Cup, he was superb. Jagielka has forever been prone to injury. And when he has been fit, hasn’t always been used a centre half. He is now indispensable to England.
The Three Lions no longer have the strength in depth in certain positions that they once had. There was a time when Steve Bruce, a Manchester United ever-present and legend, was deemed ‘not good enough’ for the squad. Not that he wasn’t an excellent defender, but there was, apparently, better options. What England would give now for a Bruce-type of player, someone with even half of his ability?
After the aforementioned Cahill and Jagielka, who does Hodgson have to call upon from his ever shrinking pool of players? Joleon Lescott, who doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going at Man City. Chris Smalling, who despite having potential, has never established himself and club nor country. Phil Jones, being versatile earns him more points, but how often does he play at centre-back? And Steven Caulker? Let go from Spurs, he can finally make a name for himself at Cardiff City, but again, not established. Question marks remain over some of the defender’s international credentials, and as you can see, Hodgson’s alternatives are sparse.
For Cahill and Jagielka now, we all live in hope that they can grow into a solid partnership. The shirts are certainly theirs to lose as England continue to be forced to put square pegs in round holes.