England’s concerning lack of depth in central midfield has been thrust into the spotlight after injuries to Jordan Henderson, Harry Winks and Fabian Delph saw Jack Cork called into the squad for the upcoming friendlies against Germany and Brazil.
Should you not be instantly familiar, Cork has been a steady presence for Burnley so far this season while contributing no goals and one assist in 11 appearances. His middle name is ‘Porteous’ though, so he does have that in his favour.
Anyway, as such, England’s midfield pool for the two games currently consists of Cork, Eric Dier, Jake Livermore and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, with one further replacement presumably set to be drafted in in due course – the likely options being James Ward-Prowse, Danny Drinkwater or, at even longer odds, Jonjo Shelvey.
How did it ever come to this? A veritable cornucopia of stodgy English mediocrity.
It perhaps should be noted that Jack Wilshere is reportedly edging ever nearer to a re-call given the raft of drop-outs despite Gareth Southgate appearing to snub the suggestion by querying why the 25-year-old should be included in his England midfield when he’s still on the periphery at Arsenal.
Well, you could counter that having no discernibly better talent in front of you in the pecking order might be a viable explanation, but hey ho.
He may have only made five starts (three in the Europa League, two in the League Cup) but Wilshere is still several rungs above the rest of the aforementioned morass in terms of touch, creativity and influence.
Anyway, given the dearth of options currently available, Pies thought we’d try to pick the five England central midfielders we’d take to Russia next summer assuming all available options are fit and ready.
Harry Winks (forward-facing, calm on ball, clever, youthful exuberance)
Jack Wilshere (the only true English midfield playmaker currently active)
Eric Dier (utilitarian, disciplined, experienced)
Jordan Henderson (covers ground, backwards pelvis)
Fabian Delph (versatile, underrated, able deputy)
It’s about as balanced as it could be, but it still doesn’t look great written down. Hardly a World Cup-winning stable.
It’s probably best you don’t even get us started on the striker situation.
The floor is open. Feel free to let us know your best five-man England central midfield combo beneath the crease…