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"For me, he's the best all-rounder" – former England man Glen Johnson picks his favourite current Three Lions right back

England
(Image credit: Getty)

The debate over England’s options at right-back reached fever pitch in the lead up to Euro 2020. Many fans thought Trent Alexander Arnold should be Gareth Southgate’s starting no.2; others thought it should be Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier or Reece James. There were even some who felt Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s tackling ability could prove useful in a major tournament. 

As it transpired, Alexander Arnold got injured, Wan-Bissaka stayed at home, and Southgate handed playing time to the other three. With so many English right backs playing for top clubs at the moment, it’s an argument that promises to run on for a few more years yet. With this in mind, FFT asked Glen Johnson, a former right-back with more than 50 England caps to his name, to tell us straight: who should be England’s first choice right back?

“Well it’s a good problem to have but, for me, without a doubt, it’s Reece James,” the former West Ham, Chelsea, Portsmouth and Liverpool defender told FourFourTwo. “They’re all a little bit different and you can use people for different formations, but in a back four, I’d have Reece Jaames all day long. He’s the best all-rounder. 

“Trent is the best going forward for sure – he also carries an unbelievable threat from dead ball situations,” Johnson, who spoke to iNews in association with SBK Sportsbook, said. “Aaron Wan-Bissaka is the best pure defender, but I think Reece is the best all-rounder. For me he is better than Kyle Walker. Kyle has incredible pace and has improved on the ball, but Reece just edges it.”

Johnson got his first cap in 2003 in a friendly against Denmark, and went on to represent England at the World Cup in 2010 and Euro 2012. In those days, Johnson’s main competition for England’s no.2 shirt were Jamie Carragher and Phil Jones, but now there is a clutch of right backs who all deserve a chance to prove why they should be Southgate’s chosen man. 

“Look, it depends what you want,” says Johnson, “If you’re playing against a flying winger with pace, you might want to choose the best defender. But maybe if they aren’t playing with such a threatening winger, you can play Trent and attack them down the wing. I just think in a normal set up, more often than not, Reece would be the man for me.”

Reece James played only once at Euro 2020, getting 90 minutes against Scotland in the groups. But after winning the Champions League with Chelsea last season, and getting his foot in the door with the national team, he will be executing to get mroe minutes in the coming months and years, This support from a former England star will no doubt boost his confidence even more. 

Glen Johnson spoke in association with SBK Sportsbook. Download the SBK app where Liverpool are 9/2 to win the Premier League title (18+. begambleaware.org).

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Ed McCambridge
Ed McCambridge

Ed is a staff writer at FourFourTwo, working across the magazine and website. A German speaker, he’s been working as a football reporter in Berlin since 2015, predominantly covering the Bundesliga and Germany's national team. Key FFT features include an exclusive interview with Jude Bellingham following the youngster’s move to Borussia Dortmund in 2020, a history of the Berlin Derby since the fall of the Wall and a celebration of Kevin Keegan’s playing career.