Arsenal legend makes international defensive call
Arsenal legend, Martin Keown, has called for Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill to be selected as the two centre-backs to star for England in the upcoming qualifiers.
The call comes after Rio Ferdinand withdrew from Roy Hodgson’s Three Lions squad to face San Marino and Montenegro in the World Cup qualifiers.
The Manchester United defender has withdrawn due to a strict fitness and training regime he has at Old Trafford, in which he has to give six weeks notice if he wishes to change the schedule.
Cahill and Smalling both starred for England in their famous win over Brazil in a friendly at Wembley earlier this year, and Keown has called for continuity in the England backline.
The former Arsenal defender has claimed fans should not to panic ahead of the two crucial games coming up for Hodgson’s men.
“Rio Ferdinand’s withdrawal is not ideal for England and Roy Hodgson but let’s not panic,” Keown told the Daily Mail.
“Last month, Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill were the centre-back partnership against Brazil and they would be my pick to play in these qualifiers.
“Cahill did very well against Brazil apart from his mistake for the visitors’ goal.
“But we shouldn’t vilify him for that. He’s an English centre half trying to play the ball out from the back and we should applaud that. He just needs to make sure he does it at the right time.
“He’s not a baby, he’s a Champions League winner who is first choice at Chelsea and, if he’s fit, he has to play.
“Smalling played the 90 minutes alongside Cahill at Wembley that night and we should be encouraged that they have played together so recently.”
If Hodgson does not go with this centre-back pairing he has the likes of Michael Dawson, Joleon Lescott and Steven Caulker to choose from for the upcoming qualifiers.