John Stones came under fire for his performance in England’s Nations League semi-final defeat against Holland.
The Manchester City defender was at fault for Holland’s decisive second goal as England crashed to a 3-1 defeat in Guimaraes.
Here, Football Paradise looks at the central-defensive options for manager Gareth Southgate should Stones’ slump in form continue.
Despite starting only one match for Liverpool in 2019 – the 3-0 Champions League defeat in Barcelona where he played at right-back – Gomez remains firmly in Southgate’s plans and the talented 22-year-old will be looking to kick on next term after an injury-hit season.
Like Gomez, Everton defender Keane was on the bench against Holland. The 26-year-old endured a difficult first season at Goodison Park but has found stability and form under Toffees boss Marco Silva to reclaim his place in the England squad and is a reliable alternative.
The Burnley defender remains on the fringes of the England squad having been on standby ahead of last summer’s World Cup, only to pull out to undergo a hernia operation. He enjoyed a strong end to the season as the Clarets successfully avoided relegation with room to spare.
Southgate continues to keep tabs on the Wolves defender but England’s move to a flat back four currently counts against the 26-year-old, who plays as more of a sweeper in a back three for his club. Nevertheless, Coady looks an assured performer and international recognition cannot be too far away.
He was dropped by Southgate in November 2017 due to concerns over his ability to play out from the back, a decision which probably still irks Smalling now. A recall looks unlikely, although Smalling’s form has actually been impressive since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over at Manchester United.