With the European Championship in France getting closer for England, there areas in the team that is still up for grabs. Notably since the retirement of Gary Neville, England has always seemed to have an issue filling the void left in the right back position. In the modern game fullbacks have developed into a pivotal part of how a team operates, in terms of providing an attacking threat down either side. Roy Hodgson and England have an important decision to make when picking the right back to slot into the first team. Hodgson has tried different players to fill this position however none of these players has really grabbed the chance and nailed down the position. The leading contenders for this position from their performances this season would have to be Kyle Walker, Nathaniel Clyne, Kieran Trippier and quite possibly a recall for Glen Johnson.
When Kyle Walker joined Tottenham from Sheffield United, many considered the fullback to become the England right back for years to come. Injuries have really played a part in the career of Walker; however this season would have to regarded as the best of his career, certainly as a Spurs player. Walker defensively has improved remarkably well, this was always the critical element to his game, but he has worked hard on this aspect to his game. He is part of the team with the defensive record in the league, but has contributed in the attacking sense to the team, with a record of 1 goal and 1 assist to contribute to Tottenham’s successful season thus far. His overdriving pace and adventure getting down his flank has always been a threat to any team. With Tottenham signing Kieran Trippier during the summer there was question marks over whether Walker to hold onto this position, but his record of playing 84% of the games in the Premier League this season, shows just how well he has done at White Hart Lane this season.
Nathaniel Clyne is currently the player to get the right back position of in the England team. His summer move to Liverpool seemingly looked to help him emerge as one of the best right backs in the league; however an indifferent debut season at Anfield looks to show some question marks over the former Southampton fullback. Clyne has been involved in 96% of games this season for Liverpool more than any other player for the club; however he is part of the Liverpool back four that does himself no favours. In an attacking sense Clyne also hasn’t contributed massively, still awaiting his first goal for Liverpool and not even providing an assist for the club. Hodgson might just have to evaluate whether the form of Clyne this season is enough to merit a place in the England first team, however he would look a certainty to get a place in the squad.
The former Manchester City trainee has enjoyed a good career since his move away from Manchester. Despite getting relegated last season with Burnley on a personal level Trippier enjoyed a good season for the club. In-demand during the summer a move to White Hart Lane was somewhat of a surprise, though it could prove a very good decision for both player and club. Despite only playing 16% of games in the Premier League this season, Trippier has been involved regularly in the Europa League games. The last six weeks has seen Trippier getting more game time in the Premier League, and he has impressed big time, competing for a regular berth with Kyle Walker is certainly bringing the best out in both players. Contributing a goal and an assist shows the capabilities of Trippier in the final third, who looked the most dangerous attacking player on the pitch in Tottenham’s recent win against Sunderland. Defensively Trippier is solid as well and covers his centre backs very well indeed, aerially he is not as strong as Walker, but the competition to start at right back for club may even develop to the national squad. Trippier is certainly a player worth looking at more for Roy Hodgson.
After the World Cup in Brazil, Glen Johnson’s international career was considered over, despite earning himself 54 international caps. The move away from Liverpool and joining Stoke really could have been the best move possible for the former West Ham and Chelsea fullback. Still only 31 Johnson has shown this season just how reliable he is, having played in 95% of Premier League games for Stoke. Johnson has been a consistent performer all season for Stoke and still has the legs to contribute in an attacking sense for the club, with 3 assists to his name this season. Many would consider the international career of Johnson to be over, but if he carries on his form to the end of the season it might just open the door back into the England set-up.
There are several alternatives for England going forward in the Championships, but these would be players considered playing out of their strongest position. Phil Jones might well be considered if he can get himself fit, John Stones might fill the position as Hodgson looks uncertain to play the young central defender alongside Chris Smalling, and there is Callum Chamber who is highly rated amongst the England coaching staff. At this point in time the player in prime position for the right back berth looks to be Nathaniel Clyne however Kyle Walker should certainly have overtaken him if this season is anything to go by.
(Stats provided by www.sporticos.com)