Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has been talking-up Jon Flanagan's England chances, following the 21-year-old's impressive performances this season.
Flanagan has made 10 league appearances for the Reds this season, starting the last three matches at right-back after enjoying a spell earlier in the campaign on the opposite flank.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Rodgers, said, "He has all the qualities to play in that position for England.
"Obviously Glen is in there and Kyle Walker as well, but Roy will know as well as anyone the pressures of playing and managing a club like Liverpool
"For a young player like Jon to be producing the performances he has done takes some doing."
So how well has Flanagan been playing when compared with his rivals for the England right-back position? And could he really be a shock inclusion in Roy Hodgson's squad for Brazil 2014?
The statistics below show how Flanagan fairs defensively compared with both his Liverpool teammate and the Tottenham man.
While Flanagan has played considerably less matches, this shows his average per match, and it is clear that he outdoes both players in terms of tackles won, effective clearances and effective headed clearances. In fact in all three areas, he is considerably more impressive than both Johnson and Walker.
He also out-performs the Spurs full-back when it comes to duels won, although he lags behind in both aerial battles and interceptions won.
That said, to outdo Johnson in three of the six stats, and Walker in four of the six, suggests Rodgers may be on to something after all.
|Player||Won Tackle / apps||Effective Clearance / apps||Effective Head Clearance / apps||Duel Won / apps||Aerial Won / apps||Interception Won / apps||Apps||Mins|
Moving on to the more attacking side of a full-back's role, both Flanagan and Walker have one league goal each, while Johnson has none to date. However, from here the young Liverpool player falls down somewhat, being outdone by both players in terms of goal assists, key passes, accurate crosses and accurate passes.
But given his inexperience, and the likely desire to master the defending first and focus on the more exciting stuff afterwards, that is no surprise.
|Player||Goals / apps||Goal Assist / apps||Key Pass / apps||Accurate Cross / apps||Accurate Pass / apps||Apps||Mins|
In short, Hodgson has a decision to make. While the World Cup is no place for inexperience, it could also be the making of a young player with the talent of Flanagan. In time he will be capped, that is a certainty. But for now the England boss must decide if he wants a right-back who can defend well or a right-back who can attack effectively.
As simple as it sounds, that is the difference when it comes to Flanagan and Walker at least. So Liverpool may, just may, have two players competing for the same position in the summer.
image: © Sarah Skelton