Gareth Southgate has given England debuts to nearly 60 players since he took charge of the Three Lions in 2016.
One of the latest to be handed a debut by the former Middlesbrough boss was Leicester City’s, James Justin.
Justin was called up to the England squad for the first time in June of 2022 and was expected to be handed a chance to impress ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The 24-year-old started for England in their first outing of the June international break, but his outing was cut short as he had to be taken off after 45 minutes due to injury. Said injury kept Justin out of England’s remaining three ties that month.
This is not the first time Justin has suffered an injury setback in recent times. The defender sustained an ACL injury in Leicester’s fifth-round FA Cup win over Brighton back in February of 2021 – an injury which saw him sidelined until January 19th, 2022.
Following Justin’s latest setback, 101GreatGoals spoke to Luton Town Performance Analyst Peter Booker to find out more about the defender.
Peter joined Luton in 2013 and worked closely with Justin until he was signed by Leicester from the now Championship outfit in 2019.
When speaking to 101, Booker was quick to praise the full-back for his work ethic:
“Justin was always a grounded individual who worked hard to perform,” said Booker. “I believe this came from support from his family and guidance of his youth coach Paul Driver. When he came into the first team he was always focused and listened to the staff, the manager Nathan Jones had a big influence on him.
“We also had a good environment within the squad that would look to help the younger players and give them advice. He also took his opportunities when they came to him such as when he made his full debut against Aston Villa and appears to still be till this day when they arise.”
And when discussing Justin’s aforementioned ACL injury, the Luton Town staff member stated that Justin is mentally tough and will have been eager to get himself back in the best condition possible:
“Justin has always been focused on his main goal of playing. He has always appeared to be mentally tough and would have been very driven to get himself back in the best physical condition possible.”
Justin will need to be driven and mentally tough if he is to earn himself a place at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
England already have a plethora of right-back options to choose from this winter, but Booker believes Justin’s versatility will stand him in good stead for a spot on the plane:
“I believe Justin has a strong chance to make it in the England squad,” he said. “His ability to play on either side allows flexibility to the manager and he could be effective to negate individual players, as well as providing a threat going forward.”
Elaborating on Justin’s versatility, Booker said: “Justin has played different positions including in midfield. When he played for Luton, he was effective on either side [left and right-back] for us. But due to Jack Stacey also being a right-back, he often played on the left where he was very effective for us. I think he performs equally [well] on either side.”
Finally, Booker provided some insight into the Leicester star’s biggest strengths:
“Justin is a very good one v one defender and [that is] one of his best attributes,” he stated. “His athleticism is also effective for him going forward. He often puts in dangerous crosses sometimes with his first touch across the box, which is difficult for defenders when they are running back to their own goal.”