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Gareth Southgate Poised To Include James And Chilwell In England XI vs Croatia

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Gareth Southgate’s decision to initially name four established right-backs in his 26-man Euro 2020 squad came with a great deal of criticism.

If Trent Alexander-Arnold’s unfortunate injury hadn’t led to his withdrawal from the side, Southgate would still have all four of those options – which includes Chelsea’s Reece James – available to him for England’s opener against Croatia on Sunday.

Even though he replaced Alexander-Arnold with £50m-rated Ben White, who is predominantly a centre-back, it seems as though Southgate is considering playing Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw at the heart of defence in the first game of the tournament.

That is according to the Telegraph, who report that the England manager could deploy Shaw in that role if he decides to switch to three at the back.

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Southgate has practised with both a 3-4-3 and a four-man defence in the warm-up games, and with Harry Maguire injured, Shaw has been tipped to fill the void on the left-side of the three.

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Meanwhile, Manchester City right-back Kyle Walker could play on the other side of that central area, as he has done on several occasions for England, whilst John Stones – England’s only nailed on centre-back starter – marshals the middle of defence.

If both Shaw and Walker were selected in those positions, Ben Chilwell would likely be a certain starter at left-wing back, whilst either James or Kieran Trippier would start on the right, meaning a total of four natural full-backs would be on the field at one given time.

That being said, the manager did return to variations of a 4-3-3 in the March internationals and in the victories over Austria and Romania last week, and may prefer to start that way on Sunday.