Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville believes there is no natural partner for John Stones in the England squad with Harry Maguire still not fit.
Maguire has been out since sustaining an ankle injury during United’s victory over Aston Villa last month.
The Reds’ captain missed both warm-up games against Austria and Romania and looks certain to miss England’s Euro 2020 opener against Croatia on Sunday despite returning to training today.
It remains to be seen who will take Maguire’s place in the centre of defence and Neville has admitted he is worried about the potential replacements.
“I think we have to really think about the centre-back pairing/the back three. I think that is going to be where the real conundrum is for Gareth [Southgate] and the squad,” he told Sky Sports’ Euros Podcast.
“How do they adapt between a back five and a back four from game to game? The strength of the opposition will obviously matter on that front as well.
“Losing Harry Maguire, I think me and Jamie Carragher had a heated debate on Monday Night Football six to eight weeks ago where I said I felt Harry Maguire was the most important player in the squad and that is taking into consideration that I think Harry Kane is the best player.
“I just think if Harry Kane got injured there are options that would mean England would suffer but not as much as if they lost Harry Maguire at centre-back.
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“I think losing him at centre-back means Gareth Southgate has brought Ben White in, it means that he is probably going to have to go to a back three. It means the whole shape of the team changes.
“I don’t think there is a natural partner that would be strong enough in the really big games to partner John Stones.”
Other than Stones and Maguire, Southgate opted to bring Tyrone Mings, Conor Coady and Ben White, who replaced the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold as his centre-backs.
However, fullbacks Kyle Walker and Reece James can both play as a centre-half in a back three if needed.