With the news that Kyle Walker may miss the World Cup, and the understanding that Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are more naturally suited to centre back, our attentions turned to Liverpool right back Glenn Johnson as the starting full-back for England at the World Cup. However his unpredictability and unreliability have me worried.
Last night I settled down to watch the Crystal Palace v Liverpool game. I was interested in the title race, the atmosphere at Crystal Palace (as I've always considered it one of the best, with a type of North Italian feel) as well as concentrating on the England players for both teams.
At the end of a thrilling 90 minutes, I started to worry about our right back situation in the World Cup. For the first 45 minutes, Glenn Johnson was bombing forward while also maintaining his defensive responsibility. He showed pace, a willingness to attack and beat his man, as well as good positioning, instincts and feel. He got into the opposing box numerous times with well timed diagonal runs, and he was rarely troubled by the speedy Yannick Bolasie.
After 60 minutes, Liverpool were 3-0 and coasting to the three points. However this is where Johnson seemed to run out of steam. You can't pin it all on Johnson as fellow defenders Martin Skrtel, Mamadou Sakho and Jon Flanagan were all guilty of falling asleep at times. However Johnson for me was one of the main culprits.
For the first goal, although it was a very unlucky deflection that took it beyond Simon Mignolet, Johnson was very slow getting out to Delaney, which allowed him the space to shoot. On the second goal, Johnson failed to stop Bolasie from playing the square pass that was neatly tucked inside the near post. Then on the third goal, he was slow to tuck in from his right back position which allowed Gayle to net the equaliser and dent Liverpool's title hopes.
Johnson has made 50 England caps, so he is an experienced international. However I don't think it's unreasonable to say he is still defensively shaky, and although he offers you plenty of face and attacking initiative down the right hands side. The main job of any defensive player is to stop the other team from scoring. You need to close down quickly, especially in Brazil where you will be facing some of the finest players in the World.
Johnson makes me nervous, but he's probably our best shot.