Under the spotlight: Who are England’s best left-back options?

England are blessed with several top players in most positions.

Ahead of this summer’s European Championship, Gareth Southgate is spoilt for choice in midfield and attack.

But left-back could be a problem area for a team with aspirations of long-awaited tournament success.

With some players in the position struggling with injuries and others still unproven, questions remain around the left side of England’s defence.

We’ve used the Twenty3 Toolbox to assess some of the potential options.

Luke Shaw

Assuming he is fit, Luke Shaw will likely be Southgate’s go-to man at left-back.

The Manchester United defender has 31 caps for England, but his 2023-24 season has been disrupted by persistent injury issues.

He played three times in Euro 2024 qualifying, ranking in the top 10 for loose ball duels won per 90 minutes (2.65).

Shaw also ranked second for non-penalty shots on target conceded while on the pitch (0.38 per 90).

There is no doubt, then, that England are more robust defensively with the 28-year-old at left-back.

But it remains to be seen if he will be fit in time for this summer’s tournament.

Ben Chilwell

Ben Chilwell will be eager to prove himself in the final weeks of the season.

The Chelsea left-back missed over three months of the campaign between September and January with a hamstring injury, and more recently has been hindered by knee problems.

Chilwell played twice in Euro 2024 qualification, starting both games against Ukraine.

Though from a small sample size, he ranked 11th for dangerous ball recoveries in the opposition half (1.41 per 90) and first for backward passes completed (17.91 per 90).

If Southgate wants his side to consistently retain possession, Chilwell may be the best option.

Kieran Trippier

Kieran Tripper certainly has Southgate’s trust.

The Newcastle full-back has been capped 46 times by the current England boss, playing both as a right-back and left-back.

He is, of course, more comfortable on the right, having played in that position for Newcastle throughout 2023-24.

But his versatility gives Southgate an alternative, particularly with Kyle Walker and Trent Alexander-Arnold potential options at right-back.

Trippier featured four times during Euro 2024 qualifying and is a dependable figure for England.

He has had a difficult season defensively at Newcastle, though, and his attacking qualities are diminished slightly on the left flank.

Joe Gomez

Joe Gomez has become Liverpool’s utility defender this term.

Capable of performing well across the back four, he played 12 times at left-back earlier in the season when Andy Robertson was injured.

The 26-year-old did not feature in Euro 2024 qualifying and only has 13 England caps since 2017.

But his contributions for Liverpool in 2023-24 and the cover he provides in multiple positions could convince Southgate to take Gomez to Germany.

Whether he will start at left-back is another matter entirely.

Levi Colwill

Levi Colwill has been a shining light in another disappointing season for Chelsea.

The 21-year-old started the campaign in excellent form, playing both as a left-back and on the left of a back three.

And his breakthrough at Stamford Bridge helped him earn his first England cap in a friendly against Australia last year.

That remains his sole international appearance, but a strong case could be made that he should be involved in Germany.

Given the emerging trend of athletic centre-backs playing at full-back — Nathan Aké and Joško Gvardiol at Manchester City for example — Colwill could provide England with more defensive solidity, allowing their attacking talent to flourish.

Alfie Doughty

There are a couple of wildcard options that Southgate might consider.

Alfie Doughty has enjoyed an impressive debut season in the Premier League with newly-promoted Luton.

His delivery from wide areas and set-piece quality has been crucial for the Hatters in 2023-24.

With another strong year of Premier League football under his belt, Doughty may well be a contender for a place in the England squad.

But Euro 2024 is likely to come too soon for the 24-year-old.

Leif Davis

Championship players are almost never considered for the England squad.

With the quality available to choose from in the Premier League — as well as La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga — Southgate is unlikely to feel the need to look down to the second tier.

If he does, though, he might be impressed by Ipswich left-back Leif Davis.

The 24-year-old is in double figures for assists this season and has been a constant attacking threat for the Championship leaders.

Defensively, though, there is room for improvement, and an England call-up is probably a long-term aim rather than a short-term reality for Davis.

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