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Gareth Southgate suffered a major injury blow with Kyle Walker a doubt after undergoing groin surgery

Gareth Southgate has suffered a major injury blow, with Kyle Walker a doubt after undergoing groin surgery… with Harry Maguire facing another two weeks out, what other defensive options do England have?

  • England have been hit by injury problems in defense ahead of the World Cup
  • Right back Kyle Walker is a doubt after undergoing surgery on his groin
  • Center back Harry Maguire is also expected to be out for another two weeks
  • With the tournament approaching, Sports mail examining the remaining options

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England boss Gareth Southgate’s defensive plans for the World Cup have taken a hit, with Kyle Walker a doubt after groin surgery and Harry Maguire facing another two weeks out.

Sports mail revealed Thursday that Walker had the procedure this week. It was also confirmed that Kalvin Phillips had surgery on a shoulder injury, making him a doubt for Qatar as well.

Walker is hoping to prove his fitness, but with the minimum recovery period from surgery being six weeks, he is in a race against time. England’s tournament starts against Iran on November 21.

The England and Man City defender posted this photo from his hospital bed on Thursday

Kyle Walker is a doubt for England’s World Cup campaign after undergoing surgery on a groin problem after leaving the pitch during Manchester City’s win over Man United on Sunday.

Maguire is set to be out for a further 10-14 days after picking up a hamstring injury in England’s draw with Germany. But Walker’s potential absence in Qatar should strengthen the United man’s place.

Walker is one of Southgate’s guaranteed starters, regardless of system. In a back three, he plays on the right side of the defense – where his blistering pace of recovery is important to England’s ability to push further up the pitch. In a back four he plays right back.

So if Walker misses out, what options does Southgate have?

Center back Harry Maguire (right) is also expected to be unavailable for another two weeks

Center back Harry Maguire (right) is also expected to be unavailable for another two weeks

Center back Harry Maguire (right) is also expected to be unavailable for another two weeks

To the right behind…

Reece James is the heir to Walker’s throne on the right side of England’s defense and is ready for the international stage.

In a back three, James is most likely to play at right wing-back. In a back four, he seems like the perfect replacement at right back. He could even play on the right of a back three and it will be interesting to see if Southgate explores that option.

Maguire and John Stones look set to start at centre-back, but neither is blessed with pace. That’s why Walker was so vital. James is also very quick and has played in a back three with Chelsea.

Walker’s possible omission fuels the Trent Alexander-Arnold debate. But Southgate is not convinced by the Liverpool man’s defensive abilities. Only last week, Southgate placed Kieran Trippier ahead of him in the pecking order – meaning that even if James is played in a back three, Alexander-Arnold is likely to miss out.

Reece James is the heir to Walker's throne on the right side of England's defence

Reece James is the heir to Walker's throne on the right side of England's defence

Reece James is the heir to Walker’s throne on the right side of England’s defence

In the middle back…

Eric Dier could take Walker’s place if Southgate uses a back three. He is very experienced and in the form of his life at Spurs. But a back three of Stones, Maguire and Dier is not the fastest. Conor Coady is playing well at Everton, but like Dier he struggles for pace.

Marc Guehi is quick and highly rated by Southgate but did not play against Italy and Germany. Likewise Fikayo Tomori.

Tyrone Mings is the logical call. He has big-game experience with England at Euro 2020, and being left-footed gives balance. Having lost his place in the squad following a slump in form, Mings’ performances have improved of late.

But don’t discount Arsenal’s Ben White. He has been excellent this season despite playing at right back. His versatility and tournament experience make him a possibility.

Marc Guehi (left) is a player who could fill in at center back for Gareth Southgate

Marc Guehi (left) is a player who could fill in at center back for Gareth Southgate

Marc Guehi (left) is a player who could fill in at center back for Gareth Southgate