Chelsea centre-back Gary Cahill is set to captain England in Friday’s friendly against Germany.
Cahill, who has been capped 40 times by his country already, is expected to partner Phil Jagielka, Chris Smalling or John Stones at the heart of England’s defence when they face the reigning world champions.
Meanwhile, with Joe Hart injured, BBC Sport claim that Roy Hodgson will use both back-up goalkeepers Jack Butland and Fraser Forster during this international break, although it is unclear who will lineup against Germany and who will feature between the posts in the match with Holland on Tuesday.
Hodgson choosing to give Cahill the armband is not a surprise. He is England’s usual vice-captain, so – as first-choice skipper Wayne Rooney is unavailable – the former Bolton man is the natural heir.
However, Cahill should count himself lucky that he is in the team at all, because he has done very little to impress for his club this term.
Cahill has started 16 Premier League matches so far in the 2015-16 campaign, as well as making two substitute appearances.
An ankle issue sidelined him at the start of the year, but, once he was fit, he was forced to stay on the outskirts of the Blues team as Guus Hiddink made John Terry and Kurt Zouma his preferred pairing.
Zouma’s season-ending knee injury gave Cahill the break he needed to regain his place in Chelsea’s starting XI in February, but his long-term future at Stamford Bridge remains far from certain.
This is Cahill’s fifth season at Chelsea. Statisticians WhoScored.com give him an average match rating of 6.82 this term – his lowest since leaving Bolton.
Based on WhoScored’s ratings system – which is a fine database, but should ultimately be taken with a pinch of salt – 52 centre-backs have a higher performance average than Cahill in the Premier League this season.
In is highly unlikely that Hodgson uses WhoScored to help him pick his team. But, while he may be unaware of the information outlined above, the England boss surely knows that Cahill has been far from at his best recently.
Hodgson’s problem is that, without Cahill, England would lack experience in one of the most important areas of the pitch.
Jagielka, with 38 caps, is similarly experienced at international level – although Cahill has played in many more top-class games, via the Champions League.
But Jagielka has also had a disappointing season with Everton, who – like Chelsea – have conceded 41 Premier League goals so far. Only Bournemouth, Norwich City, Newcastle United, Sunderland and Aston Villa have shipped more goals.
The best defence in England this season has been Tottenham Hotspur’s.
Unfortunately for Hodgson, Tottenham’s centre-back stars belong to Belgium and Austria, although holding midfielder Eric Dier, who has played a vital role in keeping Spurs tight, can and should boost the Three Lions.