Kieran Gibbs deserved his England recall

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Football News

When Ashley Cole was ruled out of England's crucial World Cup qualifier against Montenegro on Friday with a rib injury sustained in Chelsea's 3-1 victory over Norwich City, Arsenal left-back Kieran Gibbs was the natural replacement for Roy Hodgson.

The Three Lions boss was accused of overlooking an opportunity to promote Southampton's emerging young talent Luke Shaw - who actually pulled out of Gareth Southgate's U21 squad with Tonsillitis - as well as neglecting Ryan Bertrand.

However, the decision to recall the Gunners full-back, whose last international cap came 35 months ago, is justifiably the right decision for the problematic cover position on the left side of defence.

Leighton Baines will see his fine early season form for Everton rewarded with a place in the starting XI for the Wembley double header, and could play a key role in helping the country secure its place at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

With Shaw injured and Bertrand currently out of the first-team picture at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho, Gibbs is the only viable option.

Cole's absence is obviously a blow. His big game experience would have proven invaluable for Hodgon's side, but in Baines England has a more than reliable replacement.

Tensions will start to build, however, should the Toffees star succumb to injury, prompting an inexperienced successor filling the left-back void. For that reason alone, the inclusion of Gibbs was a 'no-brainer', given his impressive performances for the table-topping Gunners in 2013/14.

After putting his injury problems behind him, the 23-year-old defender is finally starting to get a regular run of games under his belt in Arsene Wenger's side, and he is clearly benefiting from the experience, improving with every game.

There are even quiet murmurs around the Emirates Stadium that Gibbs could surpass former Arsenal star Cole, and become even better than the now Chelsea villain.

His natural strengths are in attack, and, like many of Arsenal's exciting young players, forward thinking is an attribute Gibbs possesses. But, where he has particularly impressed in recent months is his development with the defensive side of his game.

Regular action in the Premier League and the Champions League will only help in his progress, and injury-permitting, Gibbs might have an outside chance of sneaking into Hodgson's 23-man squad for next summer's finals in South America.

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Kieran Gibbs
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