England’s defensive problems deepen after Chilwell ruled out of World Cup

England’s defensive problems have deepened after Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell was ruled out of the Qatar World Cup with a torn hamstring.

Chilwell, who limped off during Chelsea’s victory over Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday, received the devastating news after undergoing a scan on Friday. The left-back was in with a good chance of being included in England’s 26-man squad for Qatar but is now facing a lengthy time on the sidelines after tests revealed he has suffered a “significant” hamstring tear.

The one positive for Chilwell, who had battled back to fitness after recovering from a serious knee injury, is that he does not require surgery. But the 25-year-old, who was hopeful of competing with Luke Shaw for a place as England’s starting left wing-back, is unlikely to be available for Chelsea immediately after the World Cup finishes. He could be out for at least three months.

Chilwell, who returned to action in May having missed much of last season after sustaining anterior cruciate ligament damage, wrote on Twitter: “Following my ACL injury I worked so hard to make sure I was ready for the World Cup. It has always been a dream of mine. Unfortunately this won’t be possible following my scan results. I’ll do all I can to get back playing for Chelsea ASAP. Thanks for the messages of support.”

It is a major blow for Gareth Southgate, who is sweating on the fitness of Reece James, Kalvin Phillips and Kyle Walker before naming his final squad this Thursday.

It remains to be seen whether England’s manager chooses to pick Leicester’s James Justin, Tottenham’s Ryan Sessegnon or Southampton’s Kyle Walker-Peters, who is unlikely to play again before the World Cup because of a hamstring injury. The alternative would be to use the versatile Newcastle right-back Kieran Trippier as Shaw’s deputy. The Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka played at left wing-back during England’s recent defeat by Italy.

An issue around using Trippier on the left is that England, who play their opening game against Iran on 21 November, are short of options on the right. James was set to start at right wing-back but is out with a knee injury. Walker is yet to return from groin surgery, though Pep Guardiola has said the Manchester City right-back will be fit. Guardiola has also made optimistic noises about Phillips but the midfielder is recovering from a shoulder injury and has not played since 14 September.