Ben Chilwell expects to miss World Cup as England’s defensive woes grow

Sport

Ben Chilwell is braced for confirmation that he has been ruled out of the World Cup with a torn hamstring, handing England another defensive headache before they name their squad for Qatar.

Chilwell pulled up injured during Chelsea’s victory against Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday and the left-back expects the results of a scan to confirm his worst fears.

Although the severity of the injury is yet to be fully established, Chilwell is not expected to be available for England and there are fears he has sustained a ruptured tendon, which could rule him out for three months. Gareth Southgate is already sweating on the fitness of Reece James, Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips before naming his 26-man squad next Thursday.

It is hugely unfortunate timing for Chilwell, who has been building his way back to full sharpness since recovering from a serious knee injury. The 25-year-old has been in good form and had hoped to compete with Luke Shaw for a place as England’s starting left wing-back. The prospect of another lengthy layoff is a devastating development for Chilwell, who missed the second half of last season.

There are hopes that Chilwell has sustained only a grade-two tear, which usually leads to between four and six weeks out. A more serious tear would probably mean that Chelsea would still be without him when the club season resumes after the World Cup, which begins on 20 November. Chelsea, who host Arsenal on Sunday, are already without James, Wesley Fofana and N’Golo Kanté.

Chelsea’s head coach, Graham Potter, has Marc Cucurella as an alternative to Chilwell. Southgate, however, faces a tricky decision. It remains to be seen whether England’s manager chooses to pick Leicester’s James Justin, Tottenham’s Ryan Sessegnon or Southampton’s Kyle Walker-Peters, who is unlikely to play again before the World Cup because of a hamstring injury. The alternative would be to use the versatile Newcastle right-back Kieran Trippier as Shaw’s deputy. The Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka played at left wing-back during England’s recent defeat by Italy.

An issue around using Trippier on the left is that England, who play their opening game against Iran on 21 November, are short of options on the right. James was set to start at right wing-back but is out with a knee injury. Walker is yet to return from groin surgery, though Pep Guardiola has said that the City right-back will be fit.

Guardiola has also made optimistic noises about Phillips, but the midfielder is recovering from a shoulder injury and has not played since 14 September.

England are not the only team with injury concerns before the World Cup. France have lost Paul Pogba and Kanté, and South Korea are sweating on Son Heung-min after the Tottenham forward sustained a fractured eye socket during his team’s win over Marseille on Tuesday.

It was announced yesterday that the Germany forward Timo Werner has been ruled out of the World Cup with torn ankle ligaments.