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Alan Shearer is 'concerned' about England's defensive options at the World Cup

Daniel Marland

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Alan Shearer is 'concerned' about England's defensive options at the World Cup

Alan Shearer believes England's defence is a 'concern' ahead of the World Cup.

Gareth Southgate and his 26-man squad flew to Qatar this week ahead of their Group B opener against Iran on November 21.

England came agonisingly close to a first international trophy since 1966 last summer, losing it Italy via penalties in the Euro 2020 final.

Southgate has kept faith in most of the defenders he selected for that tournament, with only Eric Dier added in central defence at the expense of Tyrone Mings.

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The Three Lions' full-backs have struggled at times this season as well, particularly Trent Alexander-Arnold and Luke Shaw.

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Speaking to SPORTbible ahead of The Athletic's 'Emergency Football Hotline' launch, Shearer admitted he's worried about how England will perform at the back.

"I think we're pretty healthy in attacking positions. My concern would be in defensive positions. He's [Southgate] got some big calls to make. Harry Maguire hasn't been playing, Eric Dier has been making mistakes, Luke Shaw's making errors, and Trent [Alexander-Arnold] is making errors. You've got to factor in all of these when he's picking his first team for that game against Iran."

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In the final two Nations League games before the World Cup, Southgate played a 3-4-3. It's a system that's brought success over the years, but many supporters want to see an evolution, given the attacking talent at his disposal.

Shearer thinks England should have enough to get their World Cup campaign off to a winning start regardless of formation.

England's players before a 1-0 defeat to Italy in September. (Image Credit: Alamy)
England's players before a 1-0 defeat to Italy in September. (Image Credit: Alamy)

When asked which system would be suit this current crop of players, Newcastle United legend Shearer replied: "I think you also have to look at it and think it doesn't matter whether he plays four or five at the back, or three, however you want to describe it, against Iran because we should have enough in whatever system we play. If we haven't, then we have got problems."

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The Athletic's 'Emergency Football Hotline' launched earlier this week. A team of experts, including writers and former pros, will be on hand to settle any disputes you have with friends over the next month or so.

The hotline includes Shearer, who took the first call when it launched on Monday. 17 per cent of football fans have permanently fallen out with a friend following an argument over football.

Shearer is part of The Athletic's 'Emergency Football Hotline'. (Credit: The Athletic)
Shearer is part of The Athletic's 'Emergency Football Hotline'. (Credit: The Athletic)

When asked if the hotline will bring a permanent end to that, Shearer replied: "It might not stop it! What I think it will do is give you, or I, or someone else the opportunity to vent their anger or frustration over whatever topic they want to discuss. It's so they can get another opinion, or someone might shine a light on something else you might not see because you might be channeled in on one direction. You might not get that opinion from someone else.

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"There's going to be experts, sports journalists, data scientists as well. If you want another opinion, call up."

Featured Image Credit: The Athletic & Alamy

Topics: England, Gareth Southgate, Alan Shearer, Spotlight

Daniel Marland
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