Roy Hodgson’s decision to blood rookie centre-half John Stones at right-back in England’s matches against Norway and Switzerland suggests a damning lack of faith in the nation’s full-backs.
The likes of Nathaniel Clyne and Joel Ward were both overlooked for squad selection, despite injuries to Kyle Walker, Jon Flanagan and Glen Johnson.
Yet there’s at least one corner of the continent where an admiration for Three Lions-affiliated number twos and threes still runs high, Italy.
Liverpool mainstay Johnson is the latest Englishman who plies his trade in the position to attract interest from Serie A clubs.
First Ashley Cole swapped west London for Rome, before Manchester City forgotten man Micah Richards inked a loan switch to Fiorentina.
Now the benefactors behind Cole’s Roman holiday are keen to snaffle the unsettled Johnson, who could be available on the cheap in January as his contract expires in the summer.
So, what qualities draw Roma, 7/20 to record their third Serie A win in succession against Cagliari this weekend, and their rivals to the English full-back?
In the cases of Johnson and Richards it seems that attacking impetus and athleticism are upmost in their thoughts, with both men fearsome physical specimens.
Certainly neither man is the dictionary definition of defensive diligence or canny positioning.
Drawbacks in these senses have seen the feckless Liverpool man necessitate the continuation of James Milner’s international career and Richards slip down and out of the City hierarchy.
The truth is that Johnson and Richards, along with the more defensively adept Cole, are ideal for the two most prevalent formations in the Italian game.
Bounding down the flanks at every opportunity is entirely necessary in the narrow 4-3-3 favoured by the Giallorossi or the Florence side.
Meanwhile, the pair’s physical prowess makes them ideal for the lung-busting role of wing-back in a 3-5-2 exemplified so well by Juventus pair Kwadwo Asamoah and Stephan Lichsteiner.