England travelled to Spain on Monday evening in a fixture which the Three Lions were widely tipped to lose, but an exceptional first-half performance enabled Gareth Southgate to take his first major scalp since taking charge of the national side.
In the aftermath of proceedings the hoodoo-breaking Raheem Sterling deservedly stole the plaudits, whilst the likes of Harry Kane, Ross Barkley and Harry Winks were all hailed throughout the British media.
The frenzy which England’s attacking prowess evoked stole the limelight and saw a solid defensive display from Ben Chilwell go relatively under the radar, but Martin Keown was eager to pay tribute to Leicester’s academy product in his weekly Daily Mail column on Thursday.
Indeed, Keown was asked whether Chilwell should keep his place at left-back following his display against Spain, and this was his response:
‘Ben Chilwell showed real maturity for England at left back. He looked like a player who had 25 caps under his belt.
I saw everything I needed to see from a left back. There was no fear in his play. Spain tried to take him on early on but he has plenty of pace and excelled in one v ones.
He gets forward and steps on to the ball well. There is no doubt in his play, no hesitancy. That’s what impressed me most.
In terms of who should start at left back long-term, possession is nine-tenths of the law. If Chilwell continues to be reliable, dependable and available then he should keep the shirt.’
It’s a big statement from Keown considering it was only Chilwell’s 3rd international cap, but it’s fair to say he looked right at home with his Leicester teammate Harry Maguire operating just inside of him.
And the chemistry which the two players have from playing together with the Foxes could ultimately prove to be a decisive factor when Southgate is forced to make a decision between Chilwell and Luke Shaw in the future.
At club level, Chilwell (valued at £13.5 million by Transfermarkt) has been a mainstay at left-back under Claude Puel this season and he is yet to miss a single minute of Premier League football.
If Puel continues to show the same level of trust in the 21-year-old and Chilwell maintains the same level of exemplary professionalism in the years to come, he could easily become England’s first-choice left-back by the time Euro 2020 gets underway.
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