Gareth Southgate has called up Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson for the first time after yet another defensive injury ahead of the game with Lithuania on Sunday.

The 24-year-old will join the squad today and will be in line for a first cap if he takes the field in the World Cup qualifier.

The centre-back has been called in after an injury to Chris Smalling, who started in the 1-0 loss to Germany on Tuesday. This followed Phil Jones pulling out of the squad earlier this week, as well as Gary Cahill’s suspension for the game on Sunday.

Both of England’s preferred centre-backs will be unavailable for the game on Sunday. 

Gibson has been in top form for Boro in the Premier League this season, being an ever-present and sometimes taking the captain’s armband on occasion.

The defender was a key stalwart in Southgate’s England U21’s side so it made sense for Southgate to go with a player he trusts in testing times. The left-footed player has been rumoured for an England call-up for nearly a year, as he just missed out on a spot in Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2016 squad, according to reports.

Gibson is said to have a close relationship with the England boss and told the Gazette in the past of his admiration for Southgate.

Ben Gibson has been impressive when playing for the England U21’s for Gareth Southgate, as well as in the Premier League with Middlesbrough this season. 

He said: “My favourite player growing up was Gareth Southgate. I love a leader and he encapsulated everything that was good about Middlesbrough. He took us to Carling Cup glory, to the UEFA Cup final, so it was brilliant ending up working with him. My biggest upset was when we didn’t do well in the Under-21s. I felt I’d let him down.”

“He’s like a father to every player. He’s not a manager who works by fear. He’s the nicest man, honest, good principles. His knowledge and decision-making are good. I loved him as much as a person as a player. He was my hero really.”

Written by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)

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