When it comes to full backs, it would be fair to say England are just a little bit lopsided.
You a fan of right backs? Have as many as you want, pal! We’ll even stick some of them at centre-back for some reason we’ve got so many. Reece James is having to play some of the best football of his career just to get into the conversation, and there’s so much quality competition that Aaron Wan-Bissaka has almost entirely given up on an England berth.
Left backs more your thing? Well… the news isn’t quite as good. There’s a bit of quality and a bit of promise, but compared to the other flank where you’ve got about five or six Champions League standard players banging on the door, the talent pool is much less straightforward, full of players who are yet to entirely breakthrough, and veterans who might have played their last England game some time ago.
Luckily for the left-sided aficionados who follow English football, here’s an exhaustive list of the runners, riders and outside shots for a left back spot in the England European Championship squad.
One of the most obviously right-footed players I have ever seen, he is simply not a left back (cc: Gareth Southgate).
Despite having a reputation as part of the revolving door of agricultural Burnley defenders (and also as a remarkably cheap Fantasy Premier League option), Taylor has some experience of international football, having been capped for England U19s, and was the product of a Leeds United academy which has produced so many outstanding international footballers.
The solid left-back is unlikely to get a call up, but you never know.
This time last year, Williams looked an intriguing outside shot to make the Euros squad after a tidy performance on his Premier League debut against Brighton led to a tidy spell in the Manchester United side.
He is now firmly behind Luke Shaw and Alex Telles in the pecking order at Old Trafford, however, and has a long way to go before he gets back into contention for an England cap, but he’s still young.
For many years, Sessegnon looked like one of the safest bets in English football, especially after scoring 15 goals in the Championship at the age of 17.
Despite Spurs boss Jose Mourinho comparing him to Ashley Cole almost immediately after taking the reins at White Hart Lane, injuries and a lack of confidence have held back Sessegnon’s development, and he is looking to make up for lost time on loan at Hoffenheim.
You’ve most likely watched that scene from Tottenham’s All or Nothing documentary, and you may well have watched Sergio Reguilon getting up and down the left flank for the Lilywhites. Both of these items lead to the conclusion that Danny Rose is probably not playing for Spurs again.
However, he has 29 caps and has played for the Three Lions at multiple international tournaments – if Milan do indeed come calling, and/or he gets some regular football, he can’t be completely ruled out.
It’s always been quite amusing how Delph playing at left back has been portrayed as some kind of hilarious gimmick rather than a fairly impressive adaptation to one of football’s most positionally demanding roles.
That being said, he just isn’t getting enough game time at Everton at the moment, although the need to protect Lucas Digne’s fitness could change that.
Largely due to Alex Telles’ COVID-19 diagnosis, Shaw has been clinging on to Manchester United‘s left back spot, and hasn’t exactly been terrible there – or at least not as bad as his detractors would have you believe.
He’s solid enough on both ends and, with a run in the United side (which now looks unlikely given he’s injured again), could make a case for selection.
Young refused to retire outright from international duty, and when he’s at his best for Inter it’s easy to see why – he remains an extremely capable player with a top left-foot and an even better set piece delivery.
Crazy fact: Ryan Bertrand has been playing professional football since 2006.
One of English football’s most consistent performers has never been highly favoured by Southgate, having been dropped from the 2018 World Cup squad, but there’s no denying that he will continue to be on the verge of selection as long as he keeps up what he’s doing in a solid Saints side.
Even crazier fact: Only five Premier League players have more key passes than Aaron Cresswell this season (FbRef).
This has sort of come out of nowhere, not least because Cresswell, after a promising start to his Premier League career, has been downright dire at times over the last few seasons.
But the man who, crucially for Southgate, can also play on the left side in a back three, has played himself right back into contention for a Euros spot.
One of the most intriguing youngsters that England have produced in years, Saka was superb against Ireland, winning Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s penalty in fantastic fashion and generally making a nuisance of himself down the left side.
The main question when it comes to Saka is quite a boring one – what’s his best position? He doesn’t currently possess the defensive acumen for a pure left-back in a back four, and though an excellent passer from difficult angles is not yet a sophisticated enough dribbler to play permanently as a winger.
His current skill set seems to scream left wing-back, but whether this will always suit Southgate is another question. Regardless, one of the standout names for the role.
Potentially one of the best left backs in the world.
Chilwell is excellent at carrying the ball, possesses great technique when delivering a cross or shooting, and, like Saka eventually will, has seriously brushed up on his defensive technique after some difficult years as a youngster.
If England can rely on him and Trent Alexander-Arnold at their best on either side, expect ‘Three Lions’ to top the charts again next summer.