England in Qatar World Cup 2022: Dan Burn, Tyrick Mitchell, Rico Henry among candidates to replace injured Chelsea left-back in squad

England in Qatar World Cup 2022: Dan Burn, Tyrick Mitchell, Rico Henry among candidates to replace injured Chelsea left-back in squad

As soon as Ben Chilwell went off injured during Chelsea’s 2-1 win against Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League on Wednesday night, he knew something wasn’t right.

The left-back was taken off with his left hamstring in the final moments at Stamford Bridge and was later seen leaving the stadium on crutches. With less than three weeks until the World Cup, the tears in his eyes said all that needed to be said.

Asked if the tournament in Qatar was now a concern for Chilwell, Chelsea boss Graham Potter said: “I think you have to say that.

“Obviously I don’t want to say more than that, but when a player pulls up like he did and he felt it, it’s never positive.

“It’s a blow for us, on an otherwise positive night. To see him pull up like this is not a fantastic sight, we’re crossing our fingers when we get it scanned it won’t be as serious. But obviously we’re disappointed.”

The full extent of the 25-year-old’s injury remains to be determined, but with just days to go before Gareth Southgate names his squad, there is plenty of talk about who will replace Chilwell in the squad should he be ruled out.

Here we take a look at the potential options Southgate has at his disposal.

Kieran Trippier, Newcastle

Trippier looks set to win a place in England’s squad for his third major tournament in any case and his versatility across the back line is likely to put him at the forefront of Southgate’s mind to challenge Luke Shaw for the starting left-back spot.

The 32-year-old has played exclusively in his preferred right-back position at Newcastle this term, but is no stranger to taking up the left-back role on the international stage and started there during England’s Euro 2020 opener against Croatia.

Southgate justified his decision after the 1-0 win, saying: “We felt his talk across the back line and his ability to get out and stop quick crosses and his experience on a day like today – along with Tyrone Mings, who is relatively early in his international career – would be a good stabilizing element.”

The England boss is fond of multi-faceted players and Trippier can provide a strong, creative and experienced presence on both sides of the defence.

That said, with right-backs Kyle Walker and Reece James in a race against time to be fit for the tournament, he may well be needed elsewhere.

Sky Bet odds to make the final 26-man squad: 1/25

Dan Burn, Newcastle

Newcastle's Dan Burn during the English Premier League soccer match between Newcastle United and Manchester City at St James Park in Newcastle, England, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

The second of three Newcastle options is Dan Burn. At 6ft 6, he doesn’t fit the traditional mold of a left-back, but has actually played there for long periods throughout his career and plays a starring role on the left of Newcastle’s defense this term.

He doesn’t necessarily provide the creative spark that perhaps some of the other candidates offer, but he has restricted natural left-back Matt Targett to just four Premier League starts and helped Eddie Howe’s side keep six clean sheets so far this season.

30-year-old Burn is a centre-back by trade and once again offers adaptability, experience and also excellent leadership qualities.

Talking further Sky Sports Newsformer Premier League goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer spoke about Burns’ chances of going to Qatar: “I think he has to think that maybe, just maybe, now there is an option.

“I think Burn has been fantastic since he went to Newcastle. He did a good job at Brighton, but he’s gone up another level completely at Newcastle and I’d be very surprised if Gareth hasn’t thought of him.”

Sky Bet odds to make the final 26-man squad: 5/2

James Justin, Leicester

When James Justin made his England debut against Hungary earlier this year, it marked a rise from League One to the Premier League and the international stage in just three years.

Although the year-long recovery from a cruciate ligament injury suffered last year somewhat thwarted his development, the 24-year-old has developed rapidly at the King Power, so much so that he came in as a right-back and has since successfully transitioned into a left-back.

He can also play at left wing-back, which should stand him in good stead in the event of a system change during the tournament.

Sky Bet odds to make the final 26-man squad: 5/2

Ryan Sessegnon, Tottenham

With 49 caps at youth level for England, it seems only a matter of time before Ryan Sessegnon – still just 22 – makes the step up to Southgate’s senior team.

You’d imagine he’d consider himself even more of a worthy candidate for selection, given that he’s currently in the midst of his most prolific campaign since joining Tottenham from Fulham in the summer of 2019.

He has scored twice from left-back this season, although he has not regularly played that little further back since a Bundesliga loan spell with Hoffenheim in 2020/21. With youth on his side, he could well be one of Southgate’s main options.

Sky Bet odds to make the final 26-man squad: 5/2

Tyrick Mitchell, Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace’s Tyrick Mitchell is the youngest potential replacement for Chilwell and one of only a handful to have already earned caps for England.

The 23-year-old – who spent four years in Brentford’s academy before joining Palace in 2016 – made his senior debut against Switzerland in March. His level of experience, having missed just two Premier League games last term – saw him fast-tracked into the senior picture, having never featured at youth level.

He continues to be Patrick Vieira’s first-choice left-back and has made 11 starts this term, registering two assists along the way.

Sky Bet odds to make the final 26-man squad: 12/1

Aaron Cresswell, West Ham

It’s been more than five years since Aaron Cresswell earned his last England cap in a 1-0 win over Lithuania in October 2017, but he continues to play a key role for West Ham and has been one of the most consistent performers this season the semester.

The 32-year-old has been primarily deployed in his preferred left-back role by David Moyes this season, although he has played in the center of defense twice in the Premier League and twice in the Europa Conference League. He has helped the Hammers to four clean sheets in his 15 appearances in all competitions.

Cresswell’s age, you imagine, could either work for him or against him. He could be seen to be less mobile than a younger replacement, but his experience at the highest level – and in the international group – could tempt Southgate into a recall.

Sky Bet odds to make the final 26-man squad: 20/1

Rico Henry, Brentford

Many were surprised when Rico Henry didn’t even make the 55-man long list for the tournament, but Chilwell’s injury could force him into contention at the last minute – and arguably deservedly so.

He has been one of Brentford’s most consistent performers over the last four seasons and has made the step up from the Championship to the Premier League with great ease. He is equally adept at both left-back and left-back to cope with Thomas Frank’s changes between three and four on the back as well.

Henry loves to run forward and track back at pace, but what perhaps lets him down to some extent is the lack of goal commitment that his talent suggests he is capable of. For context, he has scored five goals and assisted nine in over 160 games for the club.

“He’s in a really good place,” Frank said of the 25-year-old’s progress last December. “He’s developing every day and I’m pretty sure Gareth Southgate is very aware of Rico Henry.”

The odds are not in the former England Under-19 and Under-20 international’s favour, especially given that he has not been part of a single senior team, but his performances for the Bees certainly deserve praise.

Sky Bet odds to make the final 26-man squad: 22/1

Matt Targett, Newcastle

It’s only been a few weeks since Matt Targett’s international allegiance came into question, with the Newcastle defender eligible to represent both England and Scotland.

“I don’t want to close the door either, really. I’m open,” he said. “My first choice would be England and that’s something I’m looking forward to, that’s something I think I can reach, that level. At the moment that’s the goal.”

However, it seems fair to say that he is a good way down the pecking order in terms of a WC place. The 27-year-old has started just four games since his loan from Aston Villa was made permanent this summer, with the aforementioned Dan Burn impressing in his place.

In that time, Targett has played just 44 minutes in the Premier League, suggesting he does not have the level of match fitness required to play a role in Qatar.

Sky Bet odds to make the final 26-man squad: 22/1

“Heartbreaking for Chilwell and worrying for Southgate”

Sky Sports News reporter Rob Dorsett:

“Firstly, this is heartbreaking for Chilwell himself. Remember, he didn’t play a single minute of football for England at the European Championships, largely because he had to self-isolate after chatting with club-mate Billy Gilmour in the Wembley tunnel after draw against Scotland.

“But it is certainly worrying for Southgate as well who, with injuries to Reece James, Kyle Walker and Kyle Walker-Peters, has seen his full-back options decimated.

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Former Chelsea goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer believes the Premier League’s schedule has made it inevitable for players to get injured and shares his thoughts on who could replace Ben Chilwell at the World Cup.

“It means Luke Shaw and Kieran Trippier will weigh even more heavily into the 26-man squad, and Chilwell’s woes will be matched by Trent Alexander-Arnold’s optimism, with the Liverpool man – the subject of much selection debate – now much more likely to included as a specialist back, even though he operates on the opposite side.

“In fact, these three – Shaw, Trippier and Alexander-Arnold – are currently the only fully suitable options for Southgate from his usual full-back list.

“He will want to take at least one more wide defender, you suspect, even if Walker can prove enough fitness to be included in the World Cup squad. (I hear positive noises from people around Walker in his rehab).

“The key question is whether Southgate prioritizes versatility over specialist full-backs.

“The leading ‘specialist’ left-backs are Tyrick Mitchell and Ryan Sessegnon – who play regularly for Palace and Spurs respectively.

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Chelsea manager Graham Potter says Ben Chilwell’s hamstring injury does not look positive and hopes a scan will show it is not as serious as feared.

“Although Leicester’s James Justin will push both of these hard for a place, with the added bonus of being equally comfortable on either flank.

“When it comes to versatility, Southgate already has options within the bulk of his squad.

“Although it is now clear that Bukayo Saka is best used in a wide attacking position, he can – and has – played left-back for club and country. Although it should be noted that when he was selected in a back four against Italy, he looked uncomfortable .

“Again, in versatility, Crystal Palace’s Marc Guehi scores a lot of goals. He has played at left-back in his career as well, and Chilwell’s absence may well increase his chances of a place on the plane to Qatar.

“Similarly, Ben White has played at right-back for Arsenal for large parts of this season, so he offers good cover along the back line.”

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