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England manager Gareth Southgate has many crucial decisions to make in the run-up to the delay in this summer’s Euro Cup, and one of the most important is deciding who he will deploy as left-back.
Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw will likely be at the top of the list for most England fans, and they will both prove their ability countless times this season. However, there will always be doubts about Shaw’s physical form, and it appears that Chilwell’s position at Chelsea may be under threat after Marcos Alonso’s resurgence.
While there is no question about Chilwell and Shaw’s attacking ability, it can be said that they have been overshadowed this season by another English left back.
Aaron Cresswell has been part of a West Ham team that has undoubtedly overperformed this season. The Hammers are currently outside of the top four in the Premier League, and Cresswell has been a regular fixture this season starting all 23 league games.
FPL players will be more than aware of the importance of Cresswell to their team, as he is currently the highest scoring defender in terms of points. It has also been a key factor in West Ham’s newfound ability to keep a clean sheet, a characteristic lacking in recent seasons.
Despite his obvious reliability on the back, it’s Cresswell’s attacking prowess that has really caught the eye.
It’s no secret that the 31-year-old has a left foot to die for and has been putting it to use this season. He already has five assists to his name, which is the most of any English defense. This is quite a feat when you consider that wingers Chilwell and Shaw both benefit from having superior attacking options against them.
Now in his seventh season with the club, Cresswell has been a loyal servant of West Ham. Even though he has been regularly involved with the first team throughout that time, he has surprisingly only made three appearances with his national team.
Although he has received significant recognition from fans at his parent club, he has apparently not been deemed good enough to break into Southgate’s England side. Is it because he plays for West Ham and not London clubs Arsenal and Chelsea? Maybe. But this season’s stats show that Cresswell is worth at least one chance to show what he can do on the international stage.
As recently described, Cresswell possesses the ability to play on the left side in a back three. This versatility could make him a valuable asset for England given Southgate’s tendency to adjust his formation and tactics. This same versatility is also lacking in the Chilwell and Shaw summaries.
Given his age, some may argue that picking Cresswell over the younger and perhaps more talented full-backs would be the wrong approach. After all, he has been part of a West Ham side that has flirted with relegation in previous Premier League seasons.
On the other hand, surely Southgate should pick players based on form? If that’s the case, it would be almost criminal to exclude Cresswell.
You have to wonder if Cresswell had left West Ham in previous years, we might have been looking at England’s first-choice left-back. That’s a question we’ll never have an answer to, and since he hadn’t played for England for several years, his chance to play for the Three Lions may have passed him by.
However, if you continue in this vein of form and fail to make the Eurocup squad in June, you can really consider yourself unfortunate for missing out on the privilege of representing your nation in a major tournament.