TalkSPORT host and former footballer Jason Cundy believes that England’s first-choice centre-back pairing involves Liverpool’s Joe Gomez alongside Harry Maguire.
Maguire was alongside Michael Keane as England slumped to a 2-1 defeat against Czech Republic on Friday night, though Cundy feels that the Everton man is not the long-term solution at the back for Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions.
Gomez, who has seven caps to his name, was an unused substitute in Prague and has not played for England since the Nations League third-place play-off against Switzerland back in June.
But speaking on TalkSPORT, Cundy feels that the 22-year-old should partner Maguire – though he did highlight his indifferent form since coming back from a long-term injury in April.
He said: “For me, I think England’s best partnership at centre-half is going to be Gomez and Maguire. Do I think Gomez is a better player than Keane? 100%. It’s not even a battle, it’s not even close.
“The problem Gomez has got – he hasn’t played as many games as he, or Southgate, or even probably [Jurgen] Klopp would like – and when he has played, he’s looked a little bit ring-rusty, let’s be brutally honest.”
Gomez did have a rather disrupted campaign last season, with the defender missing 23 games for Liverpool through injury in 2018/19.
While Gomez received his highest match rating this season (according to WhoScored) of 7.5 in that game, he was dropped to the bench for the visit of Leicester City with Dejan Lovren in his place, which may suggest he is not up to speed – but it may be peculiar he was not given the opportunity to put a run of games together with Matip unavailable.
However, there may be scope for his inclusion in the future – especially with Gomez starting ahead of Keane in the Nations League finals campaign despite only returning from injury a couple of months prior and making just a single start for Liverpool in that time.
Meanwhile, Keane has exposed his flaws by gifting Kosovo a goal in September’s 5-3 win.
So while Gomez could put forward a solid case for a start, Southgate will certainly have a big decision to make in the wake of Friday’s minor setback.
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