John Terry: Who should play in defence for England?

Big debate: With Terry retired, who should play in defence for England


09:48 GMT, 28 September 2012



10:08 GMT, 28 September 2012

With John Terry out of the England picture after retiring from international future, manager Roy Hodgson has a selection headache in defence.

He must decide who should play at centre back for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers and here, Sportsmail's writers give their verdicts.

Ugo Ehiogu


For now and to get us through qualification, I would go with Gary Cahill and Rio Ferdinand. Gary’s game has improved immensely over the past 12 months and he is also a real goal threat. Rio would be a great partner for him, using all his experience and presence to help him.

Time to return Rio Ferdinand (centre) is back in the England reckoning

Time to return Rio Ferdinand (centre) is back in the England reckoning

'I would then look at Steven Caulker as a deputy to come in for Rio, as I feel he has learnt his trade now and he has a really promising future ahead of him. His style of play is almost a cross between Rio and John Terry.'

Peter Wilson, Double Trap shooting Olympic gold medal winner


The player that I would most like to see step up to replace John Terry now there is one less centre back for England is Steven Caulker. I’ve seen him play over the last 18 months – on loan at Swansea last season and now being given a chance at Tottenham – and I have not seen a more talented ball-playing centre back.

Caulker can play from the back, track back and rarely loses an arial challenge. If he played alongside Gary Cahill the national team would have a young centre back pairing that could play together for many years and many major tournaments. Whilst Roy is at it he needs to give Gary Hooper at Celtic a chance as well!

Solid: Gary Cahill looks set to become a mainstay in the England side

Solid: Gary Cahill looks set to become a mainstay in the England side

Matt Lawton


Against San Marino and Poland, Rio Ferdinand and Joleon Lescott. In the longer term I’d like to see Phil Jones emerge but the Ukraine game exposed a need for Ferdinand’s passing ability and composure in Warsaw.

Matt Barlow


Despite Lescott’s indifferent start to the season, this seems the logical short-term option. They have a balance and understanding and enough quality to cope with this qualifying group. England’s defensive vulnerability against Ukraine last month was not simply down to the centre-halves. In the longer-term, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones (both currently injured) appeals.

Leader: Manchester City's Joleon Lescott (centre) is another option

Leader: Manchester City's Joleon Lescott (centre) is another option

Neil Ashton


Andre Villas-Boas is missing a trick and so is Roy Hodgson. Caulker is the outstanding talent of his generation and should be showcasing his exceptional reading of the game in a Tottenham shirt every week. He should already be an automatic choice for his club and Hodgson must use Terry’s international retirement to covet Caulker.

Cahill is a decent defender, although he will never be in John Terry’s class. He has medals and the experience of playing in high-intensity matches and is fractionally a better defender than Joleon Lescott.

Dominic King


It would make sense for Roy Hodgson to go with players who know each others’ game inside out and Everton’s Jagielka and Manchester City’s Lescott certainly struck up an impressive rapport when they were together at Goodison Park.

In form: Phil Jagielka (left) has impressed for Everton

In form: Phil Jagielka (left) has impressed for Everton

They are both better players now, have significant international experience. The right-foot/left foot combination is perfect balance and they could provide the foundations during the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.

Neil Moxley


First, losing John Terry is a huge blow. There isn’t anyone up to his standard. Whatever you think about the racism affair, you cannot dispute the fact that he is a top-class performer. There’s no like-for-like replacement. It’s a massive problem for Roy Hodgson.

If Gary Cahill was playing, I’d pick him as he has pace and is a better passer than Phil Jagielka or Joleon Lescott. But he’s not being chosen for Chelsea on a regular basis.

I actually think Phil Jones will end up at centre-half. But that doesn’t help us in the here and now. I would also recall Rio Ferdinand, to add a touch of gravitas and know-how.

One to watch: Steven Caulker (left) is a bright prospect

One to watch: Steven Caulker (left) is a bright prospect

If that’s a non-starter in Hodgson’s mind, then you have to look at Jagielka and Lescott – but the latter was not chosen to play against Real Madrid last week, overlooked for Serbia international Matija Nastasic in the Bernebeu. It highlights Hodgson’s dilemma.

So, I’d choose Jagielka and Lescott as they are both playing regularly, to be reviewed if Cahill was a regular starter for Chelsea. But the choice is far from clear-cut.