Ben Chilwell relishing England battle with Luke Shaw for starting berth | England

Ben Chilwell has said he is looking forward to meeting up with the England squad this week and to battling it out with Luke Shaw over who becomes the first-choice left-sided defender at the summer’s European Championship.

The Chelsea defender joins up with Gareth Southgate’s squad in fine form, while his Manchester United counterpart is arguably playing the best football of his career. In the next 10 days, England face San Marino, Albania and Poland in three World Cup 2022 qualifiers that will also act as warm-up games for the delayed Euro 2020.

Chilwell and Shaw are the favourites to start for England on the left – whether that is as a full-back or a wing-back – and the Chelsea defender said: “At Chelsea you’ve got two or three good players in each position and at England you should expect the same thing. Going into the Euros if me and Luke are battling it out and trying to prove who’s having the best club form going into the tournament, that’s only a positive. That means if everybody in each position’s doing that, going into the tournament everyone should be sharp and ready to play and confident. Then whoever plays is ready and that’s important.”

Ben Chilwell in action away to Kosovo in November 2019, in England’s last Euro 2020 qualifier
Ben Chilwell in action away to Kosovo in November 2019, in England’s last Euro 2020 qualifier. Photograph: Nigel Keene/ProSports/Rex/Shutterstock

The 24-year-old, like most other players at Chelsea, has seen an upturn in form since Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard as manager and believes the current system used by the German at Stamford Bridge could benefit him when it comes to playing for England. Asked whether it helps playing with a back three at Chelsea, he said: “We’ve spoken about that, me and Reece [James] particularly because it affects us the most.

“If you look at the formation England are playing, the formation we’re playing here at the moment gives us the best possible chance to get used to playing in the positions that England want us to play in. Hopefully that gives us a good chance going into the summer – that we can be used.”

Chelsea have kept 12 clean sheets in 14 games since Tuchel took over and on Sunday Sheffield United became the latest side failing to score against them as they progressed to the FA Cup semi-finals via a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge. The visitors had several good goalscoring opportunities but Chilwell said that the Chelsea players now go out on the pitch believing they will not concede.

Luke Shaw playing for England against Spain in September 2018
Luke Shaw last played for England against Spain in September 2018. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA

“Going into games there’s a lot of confidence that we can keep clean sheets,” he said. “I’ve said before that it’s not just the back four, the back five, and the goalkeeper. It’s the whole team that’s contributing to keeping clean sheets. The attackers are just as important to that. We’re just very confident going into games that we’re going to be able to keep clean sheets, which gives us a good chance to win everything we play.”

Apart from the FA Cup, Chelsea are also in the Champions League quarter-finals, where they face Porto next month. They may not be in the running for four trophies, like Manchester City, but Chilwell says there is a belief within the squad that they can win the two knockout competitions they are still in.

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“It’s 100% possible,” he said. “We’re in both competitions and playing well but it’s not something we’re talking about. I think in the back of everyone’s minds but at the moment – I know it’s cliched – we’re just taking it week by week and the manager’s indicated to us that what we need to do, and keep improving in training and going into every match with the same mindset that we have been having.”

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