Reece James, Trent, Trippier, Walker: Who is England's best right-back?

England manager Gareth Southgate

England manager Gareth Southgate named his latest Three Lions squad on Thursday afternoon ahead of a pair of Nations League clashes with Italy and Spain later this month.

Although Southgate will be intent on achieving positive results in both fixtures, his 28-man squad selection has implications far beyond the Nations League.

With the 2022 World Cup now just a little over two months away from getting underway in Qatar, the England boss has some difficult decisions to make.

Deciding who gets a seat on the plane to the showpiece tournament is just the start of the many dilemmas facing Southgate in the near future.

Soon enough, it’ll be time for the 52-year-old to select his starting XI for England’s opening match of the tournament – against Iran on November 21.

Southgate’s England have an embarrassment of riches at right-back

While some positions won’t cause Southgate too much of a headache, there’s certainly a choice to be made at right-back, as evidenced by the fact that no less than four players who specialise in that role were named in Thursday’s squad.

England manager Gareth Southgate
MUNICH, GERMANY – JUNE 07: Gareth Southgate, Manager of England looks on prior to the UEFA Nations League League A Group 3 match between Germany and England at Allianz Arena on June 07, 2022 in Munich, Germany. The German national team will play the match in the Women’s national kit in support of their upcoming UEFA Women’s European Championship campaign. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

Trent-Alexander-Arnold, Reece James, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker are the four names in contention for the right-back berth.

In an era without so much competition, all four would arguably be nailed-on for a start.

Only one can claim the coveted role at the 2022 World Cup, though.

Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar: Where did these 40 players make their pro debut?

1 of 40
Lionel Messi on Argentina duty

Lionel Messi made his professional football debut for which club?

In fact, with the 28-man squad still needing to be trimmed down to 26 before the tournament – and the likes of Jordan Henderson and Marcus Rashford due to return from injury – it’s doubtful that Southgate will have room to accommodate four right-backs in his final selection.

Who is England’s best right-back?

Recent form always has a big say in these calls and so we’ve taken to Squawka’s comparison matrix to pit Alexander Arnold, James, Trippier and Walker against each other to find out who has been England’s leading right-back in the Premier League so far this season.

Each candidate has been assessed across 35 relevant statistics in the test. The results are also ‘per 90 minutes’ rather than in total – as James has played one game less than his rivals.

You can check out the results in the images below.

Squawka right-back matrix
Squawka right-back matrix

James boasts the most overall success on the matrix, coming out on top in 10 metrics, including tackles won, ground and aerials duels won and long pass accuracy. The Chelsea star also took a share of two other categories.

Alexander-Arnold also claimed 10 category wins (and a share of one other). However, the vast majority of his victories came in attacking metrics.

The 23-year-old, whose defensive work has come under fire in recent weeks, has lost possession more than any of his England rivals, giving the ball away more than twice as often as James and Walker.

Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 03: Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool looks on during the Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC at Goodison Park on September 03, 2022 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Although he’s still clearly in Southgate’s thoughts, Alexander Arnold only made 12 appearances in the last four years for his country – something that doesn’t bode well for his chances this time around.

Careful in possession and accurate with his passing in Pep Guardiola’s well-oiled Manchester City machine, Walker bosses six metrics. How well his game will translate to an England side that likely won’t dominate possession should they make it to the latter stages of the World Cup is up for debate.

Trippier also won metrics, although these were almost exclusively for the defensive side of his game. Playing for a less decorated side in Newcastle, the 31-year-old has been called upon to make his fair shares of blocks, interceptions and clearances so far this term.

Trippier in action for Newcastle
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – JULY 29: Newcastle player Kieran Trippier reacts during the Pre Season friendly match between Newcastle United and Atalanta at St James’ Park on July 29, 2022 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Overall, James edges the debate from a stats point of view, offering a more rounded game than the other players vying for the England right-back spot.

It remains to be seen who Southgate sides with ahead of a massive few months for his England side.

Haaland v Kane debate | Via The Football Terrace

News Now - Sport News