Premier League • England

Insider names England’s best centre-back and reveals which Arsenal star will miss out on World Cup squad

Aaron Ramsdale and Ben White

A pundit reckons Eric Dier has been England’s most reliable centre-back for over a season, while Arsenal defender Ben White could miss out on the World Cup squad due to competition for places.

Gareth Southgate named his England squad for the Nations League games against Italy and Germany on September 15. He selected Conor Coady, Dier, Marc Guehi, Harry Maguire, John Stones and Fikayo Tomori as his centre-backs.

This saw Dier return to the England setup for the first time since 2020. On his inclusion, Southgate said: “He has been playing well for a period of time. We think it is a really close call across our centre-backs and he has deserved to be picked back in the group.

“We know what a good character he is. He fits in with the culture and has great international experience and leadership qualities.”

However, White did not make the cut. The 24-year-old has been in good form with Arsenal this season, who are top of the Premier League. However, he has had to play at right-back in recent matches due to Gabriel Magalhaes and William Saliba forming a good defensive partnership in the middle.

White is clearly a very good player but at the moment isn’t doing well enough to get into Southgate’s plans ahead of the current crop of right-backs. They are Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James, Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier.

Southgate went with a back three of Dier, Maguire and Walker against Italy on Friday. The match ended in a 1-0 defeat for the Three Lions, taking their winless run to five games.

The defenders didn’t do too much wrong, as England mainly suffered from a lack of creativity in midfield and attack. However, Southgate could still change things up in defence when England come up against Germany on Monday night. This might see Stones, Coady, Guehi or Tomori feature.

Eric Dier, Ben White comparison made

Tottenham insider John Wenham has given his verdict on who England’s most reliable central defender is at the moment. Wenham also tipped White to miss out on the squad for Qatar as he cannot even hold down a centre-back place at Arsenal.

“For me, Eric Dier has been the best English central defender for the last 18 months,” Wenham said during an interview with Football Insider.

“If White is trying to squeeze in as a fifth-choice centre-back, there are other targets to be looking at. The likes of Conor Coady, Marc Guehi.

“There are other people who are a more realistic aim for himself and Arsenal fans to be targeted rather than the best central defender in English football.

“For me, Dier will impress Southgate and I think he will then go on to start for England at the World Cup. White has been playing at right-back this season as well.

“So he’s not good enough to make it as a centre-half at Arsenal, he has been forced out to right-back to accommodate Saliba. Dier plays for a Champions League team, sorry Ben White.”

Pundit right about Dier turnaround

Wenham is obviously a Spurs-leaning pundit, so that is a factor to consider when analysing his comments. However, he is right about Dier turning his form around and becoming a reliable player since Antonio Conte’s arrival at Spurs.

The 28-year-old looked sloppy under Conte’s predecessor, Nuno Espirito Santo, and had a tendency to make mistakes.

But Conte has got the best out of Dier and he is now in a good place to start for England when they open their World Cup campaign against Iran on November 21. That is barring a dreadful performance against Germany, of course.

White, meanwhile, will believe he should have been given a chance by Southgate. Mikel Arteta certainly thinks the England boss made the wrong decision in leaving White out.

However, the former Brighton star is being affected by England’s strong options in the centre of defence. Southgate’s selection is certainly one to keep an eye out for, with White doing his best to charge his way into the squad.

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