We take a look at England’s favoured centre-back pairing at the 2022 World Cup – with Manchester United and Manchester City stars top of the list.
Unlike other seasons, this one will be a bit different, due to the World Cup taking place in Qatar between 21 November and 18 December.
The World Cup is usually held in the summer, however, due to the location of the competition this year, it has been moved to later in the year as temperatures are expected to be cooler.
England have been drawn against Iran, the United States and Wales in Group B and will play their opening game against the former mentioned nation on 21 November.
Gareth Southgate will be expected to watch plenty of Premier League football before his squad deadline on 13 November, while also keeping tabs on English stars playing abroad.
Despite the deadline being some time away, it hasn’t stopped the bookies predicting who the Three Lions manager will select for his 26-man squad, including several possibilities from City and United.
England’s defence in Qatar could heavily feature both Sky Blues and Red Devils players if Southgate opts to do so, with Harry Maguire and John Stones the bookies favourites to feature in the centre-back positions.
Maguire and Stones the likely duo?
Maguire and Stones have featured regularly under Southgate in recent matches, despite the former’s poor performance for United last season and the latter being seen as a third-choice centre-back at City.
However, despite Maguire’s form and Stones playing back up to Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte, the bookies have made the pair 1/20 favourites to make Southgate’s World Cup squad.
Other City and United defenders’ chances
Southgate is known to experiment with his starting XI and is yet to cement a preferred formation ahead of the competition. The 51-year-old has played both four defender and three centre-backs in recent games, with Sky Blues’ Kyle Walker operating at right-back and centre-back.
The Three Lions have a number of options to choose from in defence, especially at right-back, with Walker, Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James of Chelsea and Newcastle United’s Kieran Trippier all set to rival the former for a place in the squad.
One man who hasn’t been mentioned in that position is Aaron Wan-Bissaka. The Red Devils full-back is yet to earn a cap for England at senior level, but, if he can perform well under Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford this season, could be an outsider for a call up. Bookies have the 24-year-old as 16/1 to make Southgate’s squad.
The left-back position is also up for debate. Luke Shaw was ruled out of United’s run in at the end of the last campaign due to surgery, however, when donning the white of the Three Lions, has shown to be a great option in this position, thus the bookies making him 1/4 to be selected. He is likely to fight with Ben Chilwell, James Justin and Tyrick Mitchell for a place.
Below are odds of other United defenders who are in with an outside chance of being called up for England at the World Cup:
Phil Jones (United) – 33/1
Brandon Williams (United) – 40/1