Tyrone Mings was included in the England squad for the first time after a strong start to the season at Aston Villa. Gareth Southgate rewarded the towering centre-half with a senior call-up but Mings was not used.
England played two European qualifiers, beating Bulgaria 4-0 and Kosovo 5-3. But their defensive frailties were exposed in the second game. Mings watched on as an unused substitute while his centre-back rivals struggled. The Villa star could be the main beneficiary of England’s poor defensive showing.
Keane and Maguire struggle
Kosovo ran riot against England’s defence, starting within the first 60 seconds. Michael Keane was put under pressure by Ross Barkley and his misplaced pass allowed Valon Berisha to put Kosovo ahead.
Shortly after half-time, Keane was caught napping as a ball drifted over his head for Berisha to add a second. Then, his partner Harry Maguire committed a needless foul in the box to allow Vedat Muriqi to score a penalty. While these two struggled, Mings would have been itching to get on.
Mings has started the season as he finished the last. The ex-Ipswich and Bournemouth defender is strong in the air, hard in the tackle but, crucially, good with the ball at his feet.
The 26-year-old has the ability to carry the ball out of defence, making him perfectly suited to England’s style of play. While others like Lewis Dunk and James Tarkowski will push for England recalls, it is clear that Mings is the most natural ball-playing centre-back from those three.
Mings also offers the unique advantage of being left-footed. Having a left-footed centre-half in your ranks is an advantage as it allows them to operate on the left-hand side of defence more naturally than a right-footed player.
This is something Southgate might look to use in his England teams of the future. Mings is not only strong, powerful, quick and composed but he also allows England to use a right-left combination. This is food for thought as Southgate weighs up his current back-line against Joe Gomez, John Stones and Mings.