Selecting Jack Wilshere after a season of injury heartache and limiting England to three recognised centre-backs does not represent a Euro 2016 gamble, according to boss Roy Hodgson.
Arsenal’s Wilshere, a firm favourite of his international manager, was included as one of 11 midfielders in a provisional 26-man squad that will be trimmed to 23 for the tournament in France.
There is not such an abundance of options in defence, with Chris Smalling, Gary Cahill and John Stones the men vying for the two starting centre-half berths after the latter’s Everton team-mate Phil Jagielka was discarded.
“Obviously, I think he is a real quality player,” Hodgson said of fit-again Wilshere.
“He ticks all the boxes. I had to ask myself certain questions. Number one; is he actually fit now? Yes he is fit.
“Then I asked if he is the type of player who brings something different to the team, a player we do not have an abundance of? The answer was yes.
“Third question; at top level competition, in the qualifiers, has he performed? Has he done the job for us? Has he been a very good player? Three man of the matches in a row would answer that one.
“So really, to select him in a group of 26 was a very easy thing to do. Would I have liked him to be playing week-in, week-out for the Arsenal? Of course I would.”
Wilshere could find himself vying for a midfield place alongside Eric Dier, although Hodgson suggested the Tottenham man would also be an emergency option in defence.
“Eric Dier can, if necessary, step back and play there,” he said. “That was his original position.
“He spent most of his career playing centre-back before he moved into central midfield.
“Any time you ask someone to move where they have not necessarily been playing on a regular basis is a bit of an ask, but how much cover can you get?
“Take the last World Cup when the Germans had two centre-backs who played every game. We have at least three, and potentially four. How much cover can you actually take?”
Responding to comparisons with England’s central defensive ranks for the 2006 World Cup of Rio Ferdinand, Sol Campbell, John Terry and Jamie Carragher, Hodgson added: “I wouldn’t call it a crisis but the four players mentioned were each top-class players and I’m not going to disagree that we haven’t got those resources at our disposal today.
“Albeit, I do believe Cahill, Smalling and Stones are good centre-backs.”
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