John Terry’s swift retirement from international football has provoked many to speculate about the future of England’s defensive line up in the wake of the former captain’s departure.
It is likely that Roy Hodgson will now look to incorporate the established trio of Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott and Gary Cahill into the side, possibly on a rotational basis until a solid centre back partnership emerges.
However, despite leaving him out of the Euro 2012 squad, Hodgson may want to recall Rio Ferdinand into the England setup, particularly in light of the 33-year-old’s experience. Experience that Hodgson will find invaluable should the preferred trio of Jagielka, Cahill and Lescott succumb to injuries.
Whilst Ferdinand still has the quality to perform at the highest level, his age is not in keeping with the fresh start that Hodgson has looked to institute since his appointment in May. The England boss clearly stated that Ferdinand missed out on a call up for the European Championships for football reason alone and one of the underlying issues may have been Ferdinand’s age and sustained levels of fitness.
So with Terry having announced his international retirement and Ferdinand seemingly out of favour with Hodgson, the England manager is likely to look at the younger players available to him in order to build a team for World Cup in Brazil.
Both Phil Jones and Chris Smalling have already been capped by England and will certainly be looking to cement their place in the England set up as their club and international careers progress, yet with both young starlets currently sidelined with injuries, Hodgson may need to look elsewhere when he goes about drawing fresh blood into the team for the World Cup qualifiers next month.
Another player to be heavily linked with a future role in the England side is Tottenham’s young centre back Steven Caulker. Caulker, who spent the season on loan at Swansea last year, featured prominently in Great Britain’s Olympic side over the summer, prompting Hodgson to call the 20-year-old up to the squad that faced Italy in August.
However outside these seven contenders, options for England at centre back are pretty low on the ground. Micah Richards could potentially be used in the middle of defence, and the progress of Norwich and England Under-21 defender Ryan Bennett should also be closely monitored, yet neither player is likely to be named as a first choice replacement for the Chelsea captain.
In many ways Terry’s international retirement, has amplified the lack of depth that England possesses when it comes to top level centre backs. Whilst the Chelsea captain may have been a good leader on the pitch, he has never been technically amongst the world’s greatest defenders. Had there been a few more centre backs to challenge Terry technically then the issue of who will replace him may not have been so difficult.