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A look at England’s central-defensive options following Nations League defeat

The Manchester City defender was at fault for Holland’s decisive second goal as England lost 3-1.

John Stones endured a difficult night against Holland (Mike Egerton/PA)
John Stones endured a difficult night against Holland (Mike Egerton/PA)

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, Press Association Sport looks at the central-defensive options for manager Gareth Southgate should Stones’ slump in form continue.

Joe Gomez

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Joe Gomez endured injury problems last season (Peter Byrne/PA)

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.

Michael Keane

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.

James Tarkowski

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James Tarkowski has two England caps (Adam Davy/PA)

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.

Conor Coady

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.

Chris Smalling

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Chris Smalling has been frozen out by England (John Walton/PA)

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.

PA

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