PHIL Parkinson hopes England can find a trusted centre-back partnership this summer, just like he has managed to do at Wanderers.

Mark Beevers and David Wheater have been mainstays for the Whites boss since he arrived at the Macron nearly 17 months ago.

England look set to play with a back three at the World Cup in Russia but places still appear to be up for grabs either side of ex-Bolton star Gary Cahill.

Parkinson reckons Gareth Southgate will be looking for players who can best handle the pressure of tournament football.

“If I put myself in the England manager’s shoes and he’s picking centre-backs for the World Cup, he will be looking for someone he knows he can trust when the going gets tough,” he said. “Gareth will be thinking which of those players will come up with the goods in the big games, the quarter-finals, the semi-finals, and make those big challenges and be brave?

“They can be defining factors between winning and losing and we have got two players who do exactly that job for us.

“Week-in, week-out Mark Beevers and David Wheater make those sort of challenges and that’s why they are so important for us.”

Wheater and Beevers bounced back to form in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Norwich after what the manager admitted had been a rare off-day at Sunderland.

“I looked at Sunderland’s goal and thought the gap between the two centre-backs was too big but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, they have been excellent. I don’t think you can pin anything specifically on those two for the other goals that they scored.

“It probably shows how consistent they have been for us that when a mistake does happen you notice it but speaking generally they have been very, very good for us.”

Parkinson was pleased with Wanderers’ defending on Saturday against Norwich, albeit a clean sheet was lost at the bitter end when Josh Murphy struck in the 94th minute.

“We have always worked hard on the back four, our defensive unit and the organisation of the players,” he said. “And I think since Karl Henry came in, that has gone up another level.

“The lads at the back are really playing with confidence at the moment.

“I was disappointed to lose the clean sheet. I was more disappointed for Ben Alnwick than anything else because he had a great game. But the centre-halves are playing like we know they can. The blocks, the challenges, the headers – defenders are judged on those qualities.”