Roy Hodgson has praised Chris Smalling and John Stones – and does not expect a new left-sided centre-back to challenge for a Euro 2016 spot.
Not so long ago Sol Campbell, Rio Ferdinand and John Terry were the kind of players at the Three Lions’ disposal – options they would love now having conceded four goals in the friendlies with Germany and Holland.
Hodgson bristled at questions about his side’s defensive solidity, pointing at the way the goals arrived, previous matches and overall pattern of play, but accepted there is work to be done at centre-back ahead of Euro 2016.
Asked if he has a bit of a challenge on his hands in central defence, Hodgson said: “We have, but I thought (Chris) Smalling’s performance until he came off was very good, for example.
“And I think (John) Stones, who has not played many games recently, showed a lot of assurance and showed signs of the type of player he can be.
“Your point that we haven’t got the left-sided one is quite right, but there is nothing I can do about that unless suddenly in the next five weeks some brilliant English left-sided centre-back appears on the scene and I don’t anticipate that.”
Hodgson said it is a “fact of life” that there are no English left-sided centre-backs playing at the level of those currently involved, but it was pointed out that former captain Terry fits the bill.
“Yes, who knows,” he said with a laugh.
“But I’m not 100 per cent certain that outside of John Terry, who because he retired so long ago he doesn’t feature in my thinking very often, (there is anyone) but I can’t deny that is a valid point.
“He is a left-sided centre-half, although not a left-sided player. He’s a right-footer. He retired four years ago.”
Hodgson revealed he had a “long chat” with Terry the other day, adding the Chelsea skipper is a “very nice guy”.
The 78-cap defender called time on his England career in September 2012, accusing the Football Association of making his position within the international setup “untenable” following its pursuit of a racism charge against him.
Assuming Terry does not make a shock return, Smalling, Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka and Stones are the main men jostling for a spot at centre-back.
The latter is enduring a tough time at the moment, with his drop-off in form at Everton compounded by a slip in Tuesday’s loss to Holland.
“Sometimes people have had careers ruined by being unlucky,” Hodgson said. “I would definitely put that slip down to misfortune.
“If I was to analyse his 90-minute performance, I don’t think I would criticise him too heavily over the course of the 90 minutes.”