England's World Cup left-back options after Ben Chilwell injury

Ben Chilwell’s injury blow leaves England short of left backs for the World Cup – Shaw is first choice, Trippier is better on the right and Saka isn’t a natural wing-back… so, who else could go to Qatar?

  • Ben Chilwell suffered a devastating injury blow just days before the World Cup
  • Left-back limped out of Chelsea’s win over Dinamo Zagreb with hamstring issue
  • It means Luke Shaw will be Gareth Southgate’s first-choice left-back in Qatar
  • Kieran Trippier can play there but is likely to be needed on the opposite side
  • Southgate’s experiment with Bukayo Saka playing left wing-back didn’t work
  • A number of more natural left-backs could be in contention for a call-up now 
  • Click here for all the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates

It is a cruel blow to pick up an injury this close to the World Cup. Gareth Southgate is on the verge of confirming his England squad and Ben Chilwell was almost guaranteed to be in it.

The Chelsea left-back has probably not played for his country as regularly as he would have liked and was very much second-choice to Luke Shaw, but he would have gone to Qatar.

Now he’s resigned to watching the World Cup on television after a hamstring injury suffered in Wednesday night’s Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb ruled him out of the tournament.

Chilwell looked visibly upset as he left the pitch at Stamford Bridge, and he appeared to mouth to his England colleague Mason Mount that his hamstring had ‘popped’.

With Southgate looking for an alternative left-back when he names his 26-man squad for Qatar next week, Sportsmail has laid out his options.

Ben Chilwell has been ruled out of the World Cup after suffering a devastating injury blow as he went off with a hamstring issue in Chelsea’s Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb

Chilwell must have known his World Cup ambitions were probably over as he went down 

Chilwell was filmed leaving Stamford Bridge on crutches after the Champions League game

It leaves Gareth Southgate with a dilemma with England now short of natural left-backs 


The Manchester United defender established himself as England’s first-choice during Euro 2020, memorably scoring against Italy in the final, and he will head to Qatar in the same position.

Chilwell provided Shaw with his main competition at left-back and that threat looks to have been removed.

Shaw has enjoyed a run of games for United in recent weeks, becoming Erik ten Hag’s first-choice ahead of Tyrell Malacia and so he’ll come into the tournament in good form.

Luke Shaw will now go to Qatar as England’s clear first-choice in the left-back position

He played in the 3-3 draw with Germany that concluded England’s Nations League campaign in September, a match where Southgate put out what could well be his World Cup first choice.

Shaw played as a left wing-back in a 3-4-2-1 formation that night but can obviously also play in a back four and he has Southgate’s trust.

He looks set to line up against Iran in England’s first group game on November 21 but the squad will need to contain at least one player as a back-up.

Shaw scored in England’s last outing, the 3-3 draw with Germany in the UEFA Nations League 


Left-back isn’t Trippier’s natural position but that hasn’t stopped Southgate switching him across from the right in the past.

The Newcastle United man played there in England’s Nations League games with Germany and Italy back in June, for example.

Trippier has always been willing to switch over and he brings a quality of crossing and set-piece execution to the side.

He also comes into the tournament in positive form, with Newcastle genuine contenders for a top-four finish in the Premier League.

However, Trippier could well be required in his usual right-back role at the World Cup given the injuries to Reece James and Kyle Walker that have left England short of options.

Kieran Trippier brings international experience but he might have to play in a right-back role


We’ve seen Southgate experiment this year by playing Arsenal star Saka as a left wing-back in a 3-5-2 or 3-4-2-1 shape.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t really worked. England lost all three of the Nations League games in which this was attempted and being bogged down with added defensive responsibilities inhibits Saka’s natural game.

The 21-year-old, enjoying an excellent season with Arsenal, is one of the few in the England team confident enough to take on and beat defenders, so it would be silly to restrict him.

However, it’s good for Southgate to know he has this option up his sleeve should anything happen to Shaw during the World Cup.

Southgate has experimented with Bukayo Saka in a left wing-back position but it inhibits him


The Tottenham star is really only just being mentioned in this debate despite 20 previous appearances for England’s under-21 team.

Sessegnon, 22, has started in nine Tottenham games in the Premier League and Champions League so far this season, with the notoriously demanding Antonio Conte clearly trusting him as one of his all-important wing-backs.

‘He is a reliable player, he’s a really young player but he’s improving a lot,’ Conte said of Sessegnon recently.

Although his time with Spurs has seen fluctuating fortunes, Sessegnon’s goal in the comeback win over Bournemouth last weekend maybe suggests he is entering a good spell of form.

Who knows, it could result in a late plane ticket to Qatar.   

Tottenham’s Ryan Sessegnon scored in last weekend’s win over Bournemouth and could make a late dash for England’s plane to Qatar


Justin’s one England cap – in the away loss to Hungary over the summer – came playing at left wing-back in a 3-4-3.

He’s more than comfortable on that side and plays there for Leicester on a regular basis.

Southgate saw Justin in action when Leicester played Crystal Palace last month and the 24-year-old is able to perform the defensive and offensive responsibilities expected of the modern full-back.

Justin was maybe third-choice left-back in Southgate’s thinking for the World Cup but Chilwell’s injury could see him squeak into the final 26 heading to Qatar.

Leicester’s James Justin made his England debut against Hungary earlier this year 


Equally, Mitchell could now be the man to offer the back-up to Shaw in the final squad.

He won his first senior England caps in the March friendlies against Switzerland and the Ivory Coast but then he wasn’t involved at all during the Nations League.

His performances for Crystal Palace have dipped this season, however, compared to the start of the year when he earned that national team call-up.

Nonetheless, Mitchell was in the 55-man squad longlist that Southgate is trimming down and now circumstance may get him a seat on the plane.

Crystal Palace’s Tyrick Mitchell (left) made two England appearances in the March friendlies 


Brentford’s Henry spoke of his ambitions to get into the England team in an interview with Sportsmail last month.

The uncapped 25-year-old has performed consistently at left-back for the Bees for some time now and earlier in the campaign he was outperforming most of his contemporaries in the Premier League, especially when it came to crosses.

It would certainly be a gamble for Southgate to pick a player he hasn’t previously picked for England but stranger things have happened in World Cup squads.

Rico Henry is a consistent performer for Brentford and harbours international ambitions 

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