After trying to dissect the horrible conundrum at centre back, we turn to the rather more straight forward position of left back!
There are four obvious contenders here for this position who will all be vying for a place in Gareth Southgate’s squad but arguably only two will get the nod, but whom!?
All things being equal with everyone fit and playing well, Danny Rose is first choice. Not even a debate in my mind. Under Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs he has developed into a world-class player who covers an enormous amount of ground to provide an attacking threat while also reliably covering his goal. Formerly an attacking winger, Rose has a natural eye for goal which gives England a different string to their bow in what could be a fairly restrained attack if they do opt for three-centre-backs.
Bertrand came through the Chelsea ranks with a high degree of expectation on his shoulders, and while he struggled to usurp Ashley Cole from the starting position, he did peak the interest of several top clubs around the country. Similar in style to Rose, Bertrand is a high energy full-back who loves getting forward. He may not have the natual attacking instincts of Rose but he has been an extremely reliant performer for Southampton.
Roll back four years ago and you could never have predicted Ashley Young as a potential left-back for the National side. The veteran United man has been rock solid for the Red Devils this season and has been able to keep the younger Shaw out of the side.
The fact that Young provides cover for positions higher up the pitch makes him a valuable option to have in the squad.
The apparent heir to the ‘Ashley Cole’ throne has fallen from grace since his big money move to Old Trafford. A bizarre relationship with Mourinho at Manchester United has left Shaw out in the cold at Old Trafford and he’ll likely miss the World Cup altogether due to lack of game-time! He needs to leave Manchester to recover his form!
To be honest, it has to be two of the above but in the unlikely event of injury then these two might have an outside chance of getting the call!
Cresswell has featured in recent England squads and has seen a lot of game time at West Ham this season, however, due to West Ham having a terrible season and due to ongoing niggling injuries, Cresswell’s form has been patchy. He needs a miracle to see Southgate giving him an invite to Russia!
The curious case of Fabian Delph. A combative holding midfielder and, as of now, a Premier League winner is an unlikely contender to be England’s left back at the 2018 World Cup! He has filled in for the injured Benjamin Mendy at Manchester City this season and fits into Guardiola’s style quite well. I’m sure Southgate would have rathered him seeing game time in the centre of the park but having played so much this season at left-back means he has to be in the conversation.
Similar to Young, Delph offers valuable flexibility being able to cover multiple positions so he may just squeeze in somehow, but it shouldn’t be as a left-back.
Again, assuming Danny Rose can prove his fitness and maybe get some game time under his belt as Spurs in the next few weeks then he starts for England at the World Cup. Ryan Bertrand offers the perfect replacement and can swap for games in quick succession so that they can keep fit.
Ashley Young will be on standby if Rose cannot prove his fitness!