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The man England must naturalise as Jagielka’s World Cup partner

| 02.01.2014

Formerly a well-stocked area of the England pantry there’s suddenly a dearth of classy centre-halves available and with World Cup 2014 just around the bend it might just be time for a leftfield solution.

Gone are the days when Three Lions bosses would ponder whether to select Sol Campbell, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Ledley King.

At present Roy Hodgson has Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling to pick from, with the Everton man the only guaranteed starter for their club in the middle of defence.

That’s why, with precious few alternatives hurling themselves forwards at present, the FA should look into naturalising Sylvain Distin to bolster the rearguard of an England side that are currently 33/1 to lift the World Cup at the home of Joga Bonito.

Despite having made more Premier League appearances than any other foreign outfield player in its history the Frenchman has never been capped at any level for his nation.

His career in England began for Newcastle back in 2001.

Distin has played all bar one league game this term in a defence that, having conceded just 19 goals is the division’s joint-second stingiest.

Apart from his qualities as a defender and the immense well of experience upon which he has to draw, co-opting the former PSG man has another major positive.

He will have played alongside not one but two players likely to start in England’s back four in Brazil in most games across the last five campaigns.

Jagielka is arguably the most guaranteed starting defender of any Roy Hodgson has to choose from, while Leighton Baines will be increasingly likely to usurp Ashley Cole the longer the latter is marginalised at Chelsea.

Such a huge shared understanding would aid the England backline, with the likely inclusion of Everton wonderkid Ross Barkley only likely to increase the telepathy further.

At 36 he is far from a long-term solution, but this only makes him a more ideal selection for England duties in Brazil.

Having earned the World Cup appearance he richly deserves, the Toffees titan could then leave the fold once more, opening the door for the next generation.

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Thomas Reynolds