Gareth Southgate has used a tried-and-true strategy to guide England to the semifinals of two international tournaments, but John Barnes worries Jude Bellingham does not match up.
John Barnes worries that if Gareth Southgate starts Jude Bellingham in front of his preferred three-at-the-back formation, England’s defense will be left open.
With Kyle Walker, John Stones, and Harry Maguire in the lineup, the Three Lions have shown great success in recent international competitions when utilizing three center backs, making it to the 2018 World Cup semifinals and the Euro 2020 championship game.
As England plays Iran, the United States, and Wales in the group stage in Qatar, Southgate plans to stick with his tried-and-true method.
In front of the defense, Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips established a rock-solid connection during the 2016 Euros, but the latter enters the World Cup lacking match fitness due to an injury-plagued first half of the season.
Barnes maintains that England need two natural holding midfielders for Southgate’s preferred system in order for it to work, despite the fact that many supporters are wanting to see Jude Bellingham enter the lineup as he continues to thrive at Borussia Dortmund.
The Three Lions legend stated, “With England’s defensive set-up, what will determine whether we play a back three or five will be determined on the availability of our two holding midfield players.
Jude Bellingham prefers to move forward, so it will be challenging to play alongside Declan Rice if you utilize the back five or back three.
You need holding midfielders in our back three, like Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips did for us at the Euros. It also largely hinges on Gareth Southgate’s preferred style of play.
A back four or five could work for England in any case, but that will also affect who starts in midfield.
Bellingham can be used in midfield if we’re using a five-man back defense. The type of tournament Gareth wants to play really depends on the team.”
Bellingham, who has 10 direct goal involvements at the club level this season compared to Rice’s three, is a more offensively inclined player than either Manchester City stalwart Phillips or West Ham captain Rice.
Phillips, on the other hand, joined City from Leeds United last summer for a fee that might reach £45 million. Since then, he has only made four appearances for City, all of which have been as a substitute.
The 26-year-old, who just recently overcame a shoulder injury to play against Chelsea in the EFL Cup, is a skilled player on his days and presents Southgate with a selection conundrum for the midfield ahead of Monday’s opener against Iran.