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England Are Well Defended

Some of the best players around the squad at present are defenders

Posted Jun 24, 2011 by Chris White

Jagielka Dawson and Terry

Although England are seemingly incapable of performing at international tournaments, the latest evidence even stemming from the Under 21 side who went out in the group stages at the European Under 21 Championships, at least we are all safe in the knowledge that we are not short on top quality defenders.

While many would suggest John Terry, the recently reinstated captain, and Rio Ferdinand, the former England captain, (don’t get me started), are the first choice partnership, there are plenty of other central defenders who could come into the heart of the England back four and fit in straight away.

Michael Dawson has become one of the best defenders in the Premiership over the course of the last 18-months, with the only real problem being keeping him fit. When he is available, he is a great defender who reads the game well and can pick a pass too.

Phil Jagielka is a player who has been improving year on year in the Premier League, and someone who could do a job right across the back four, or even in midfield, or, as he did at Sheffield United, in goal! He is quick, good in the air, good in the tackle and a reliable defender who can pop up with goals at the other end.

Joleon Lescott made a big money move from Everton to Manchester City and many people questioned whether he was going for the money, including myself, but he has become part of one of the most solid defences in the Premiership alongside Vincent Kompany.

But two of the plus points to come out of the European Under 21 Championships – if not the only two positives – were the performances of Manchester United’s Chris Smalling, and the United-bound Phil Jones. The two youngsters were rocks at the back for England and looked like seasoned professionals who had been playing together at club and international level for years, despite their tender ages.

Smalling had an unbelievable first season at Old Trafford, despite not being a regular. He is quick, composed on the ball and strong in the tackle and reads the game incredibly for someone so young. He has put himself as the third choice centre half, behind Ferdinand and Vidic, and ahead of Jonny Evans and Wes Brown, who both look set to leave because of his performances, and the impending arrival of Jones. The Blackburn defender looks so calm on the ball that he could become a midfielder in time, but his tackling, positioning and composure made him really stand out at the back for the Under 21s.

So although England are almost a certainty not to win an international tournament any time soon, at least they’re unlikely to lose too many games because of a poor defence. We’re definitely in safe hands for a few years yet.

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