How will Gareth Southgate address England's defensive challenge without Marc Guehi and with Luke Shaw's continued absence for the upcoming match against Switzerland?


Gareth Southgate is a manager who does not like making frequent changes to his team.

The England boss has used only 13 different starting players so far at Euro 2024, with 10 of those players starting in all four matches.

However, Southgate will be forced into at least one change when the Three Lions take on Switzerland in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

Southgate may also need to make a change at left back after Kieran Trippier limped off in the 66th minute of Sunday’s comeback win over Slovakia in the round of 16.

Marc Guehi (left) is suspended for England's Euro 2024 quarter-final against Switzerland

Marc Guehi (left) is suspended for England’s Euro 2024 quarter-final against Switzerland

Kieran Trippier (left) could also miss the game after suffering an injury blow against Slovakia

Kieran Trippier (left) could also miss the game after suffering an injury blow against Slovakia

Trippier is a right back but has started England’s first four games at left back because Luke Shaw has not been fit.

Shaw only returned to team training last month, having been out of action since February with a hamstring injury.

He could soon be fit enough to feature off the bench but he surely will not start against Switzerland due to his lack of recent game time. 

That leaves Southgate with a potential crisis in the No 3 position.

Arsenal legend Ian Wright recently suggested that Southgate could move Bukayo Saka from the right wing to the left side of defence.

Indeed, Southgate followed this advice as Trippier was subbed off on Sunday but that was seemingly just a temporary solution and one that was influenced by the fact England were 1-0 down and chasing the game.

Saka himself has made it clear that he would rather not move to left back. 

Bukayo Saka (right) filled in at left back against Slovakia but would rather play further forward

Bukayo Saka (right) filled in at left back against Slovakia but would rather play further forward

England boss Gareth Southgate, pictured at Monday's training session, has decisions to make

England boss Gareth Southgate, pictured at Monday’s training session, has decisions to make

Responding to the suggestion made by his fellow Gunners favourite last week, Saka told BBC 5 Live: ‘No, obviously I love Ian Wright and he says so many great things about me but I don’t think putting me out of position is the solution.

‘But at the end of the day, I think we can talk about this but it’s in Gareth’s hands so we will just have to trust whatever Gareth selects on the day.’

That is now the big question. Who will Southgate select on Saturday?

Assuming Southgate is looking to bring in a new left back as well as a new partner for John Stones at centre back, there would appear to be six players in with a chance of breaking into the defence that started against Slovakia.

1. Luke Shaw

As previously mentioned, Shaw is not match fit.

It would be a pretty bold move by Southgate to ask the Manchester United ace to start in a major quarter-final after 139 days on the sidelines.

Then again, it was a pretty bold move by Southgate to name Shaw in his tournament squad, especially as the only natural left back. So who knows?

Man United left back Luke Shaw has not played a competitive game of football since February

Man United left back Luke Shaw has not played a competitive game of football since February

2. Trent Alexander-Arnold 

Alexander-Arnold started two of England’s group games in central midfield but he is naturally an attacking right back.

The Liverpool star could potentially fill in at left back against Switzerland.

However, a more likely scenario would be the 25-year-old coming in at right back, with Kyle Walker switching to the left.

Trent Alexander-Arnold played in midfield in the group phase but could now play in defence

Trent Alexander-Arnold played in midfield in the group phase but could now play in defence

3. Ezri Konsa

Aston Villa defender Konsa only made his international debut in March but he has now been capped five times following Sunday’s 15-minute cameo against Slovakia. 

The 26-year-old is very versatile, which could prove useful. He frequently switched between right back and centre back for Villa last season.

If Walker moved to the left, Konsa could comfortably fill in on the right. He could also be a natural replacement for Guehi, while he would probably do a job as an emergency left back if needed.

Ezri Konsa (right) made his first appearance of Euro 2024 in Sunday night's win over Slovakia

 Ezri Konsa (right) made his first appearance of Euro 2024 in Sunday night’s win over Slovakia

4. Lewis Dunk

Brighton captain Dunk is less versatile than Konsa. He will either play at centre back or not at all.

If Southgate does call upon the 32-year-old then it will probably be because he is more experienced. Although Dunk has only won six senior England caps to date, he has 470 senior club appearances to his name, including 241 in the Premier League.

Should Dunk feature on Saturday it will be his first appearance of Euro 2024.  

Brighton skipper Lewis Dunk has not yet got on the pitch for England in Germany this summer

Brighton skipper Lewis Dunk has not yet got on the pitch for England in Germany this summer

5. Joe Gomez

Gomez actually started 14 games at left back for Liverpool last season. He also featured at right back, centre back and in midfield.

The former Charlton defender has represented England 15 times. Gomez has played in some major European matches for his club too, so Southgate might fancy him as the man to handle the big occasion.

However, like Dunk, Gomez has not yet played a single minute in this summer’s Euros. 

Liverpool's Joe Gomez has also not yet played a minute at Euro 2024 but that could change

Liverpool’s Joe Gomez has also not yet played a minute at Euro 2024 but that could change

6. Adam Wharton 

This is seemingly the least probable option.

But defence-minded midfielder Wharton is at least left-footed and could therefore add some sort of balance to England’s backline.

The 20-year-old Palace youngster has been capped just once, having made his senior debut in last month’s Euros warm-up win over Bosnia and Herzegovina.



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