England manager Gareth Southgate was reportedly left blindsided by Tariq Lamptey’s decision to switch nationality after the Brighton right-back announced his decision to represent Ghana.
According to sources inside the England camp, Lamptey was viewed as an essential component within Southgate’s pioneering new eight right-back system which is set to debut at this year’s Qatar World Cup. Alongside Kyle Walker, Reece James, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Kieran Trippier, James Justin and Matty Cash, the plan was to use Lamptey to create overloads on the right side of the field while one of the other seven right-sided fullbacks whipped in crosses to England frontmen Harry Kane and Tammy Abraham.
Southgate held crunch talks with Lamptey back in March of this year but after assuring Lamptey that being England’s fifth-choice right-back is better than being England’s first-choice left-back, he thought he’d done enough to convince the Brighton star to stick with England. When news of Lamptey’s decision broke, the Three Lions boss was said to be apoplectic – an unnamed member of Gareth Southgate’s coaching staff told us that Southgate locked himself in his office, tore off his waistcoat, and penned an angry letter to the Ghanaian FA as Frankee’s 2004 hit ‘Fuck You Right Back’ played on repeat – the music so loud that it could be heard during an England U9s game where parents were left incensed by the song’s x-rated lyrics.
Southampton’s Kyle Walker-Peters is now expected to take Lamptey’s place in the starting lineup, however, with only Luke Ayling and Max Aarons left to cover for England’s eight starting right-backs, Southgate is concerned that he’ll be left without a plan B in the event of an injury or late-game fatigue. One source told us that Southgate has reached out to Gary Neville in case of emergency, with the England manager favouring the ability to play right-back over fitness, match sharpness, or even talent.