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Why Gareth Southgate was right to call-up Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson for England

Sunday 26th March 2017
Following the injuries to Gary Cahill, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson received his first England call-up and here's why he is deserving of that chance.

Joining the youth system at Boro at the age of 12, the 24-year-old was a member of the side that won the Nike Cup in 2008 which helped him sign his first professional contract with the club in 2010.

The centre-back, who is also the nephew of Boro owner Steve Gibson – proved that it was not just the family relation as to why he was within the Riverside ranks as he managed to make his first-team debut for his side in 2011 in a 2-1 victory over Coventry City.

Having experienced a loan spell at League Two Plymouth, Gibson joined York City on loan until the end of the 2011/12 campaign where in just 11 appearances he helped the Minstermen to the 2012 FA Trophy title with a 2-0 victory over Newport County at Wembley.

In addition, Gibson also played a part in York's return to the Football League after an eight-year absence with promotion to League Two following a 2-1 triumph over Luton in the Conference Premier play-off final which was also at Wembley.

The following campaign saw Gibson return to loan duties. This time for Tranmere in League One, featuring 33 times for Rovers.

After three successful temporary spells away from Riverside, Gibson returned to Boro to play a regular part in their 2013/14 campaign.

During his first full-season for Middlesbrough, Gibson made 33 appearances in the Championship which also saw him notch a solitary goal, in a 1-1 draw against Huddersfield.

Becoming one of the first names on the team-sheet, the Nunthorpe-born defender was a regular fixture for Boro in the 2014/15 season that saw Aitor Karanka's men finish in the play-off spots which resulted in them losing 2-0 in the final to Alex Neil's Norwich side.

However, Gibson's contribution to his side did not go amiss, as he was called up to Gareth Southgate's U21 squad that featured in the European U21 Championships.

Returning with his new-found experience of international football, Gibson was immense during Middlesbrough's successful 2015/16 promotion campaign, with the centre-half making 36 appearances for his boyhood club, helping them return to the heights of the Premier League.

Since returning to England's top flight, Boro have found life a bit difficult to re-adjust to, despite signing talented players such as Alvaro Negredo, Adama Traore and Victor Valdes.

Nonetheless, the defensive side of things for the club currently in 19th place has not been an issue.

With only 33 goals conceded this season, it is the sixth best in the division, with the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool letting more goals in this campaign.

Given that statistic and how many games Gibson has featured, a call-up to England's senior squad was always on the cards and following the injuries within the Three Lions ranks, it is certainly a deserved call-up for the defender.

Also, as a left-footed defender, he can potentially play along the back-three in the new formation Southgate has been opting to try.

Therefore, do not be surprised to see Gibson continue to feature in an England shirt over the next few years.
Greg Stubley
Greg graduated with a first in Sports Journalism from the University of Brighton in Summer 2016 and has already managed to gain experience in the industry, working for companies such as Charlton Athletic and talkSPORT. Greg is currently the regular commentator on Charlton's "CAFCPlayerHD" service, bringing full-match live commentary along with Terry Smith of Addicks' games up and down the country for subscribers to listen.

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