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Gibraltar’s small defensive pool

Football Opinion and Analisis
by Stephen Ignacio

As Gibraltar football enters its first week of the domestic league season and whilst no official player lists have been published in full yet deep concerns over the development of players at club level towards the national team still exists.
Clubs, as has been traditional since Gibraltar joined UEFA have continued to provide few details on their squads prior to the start of the season. Only a limited number of clubs actually providing their squad lists.
However, data sources such as Transfermarkt have been reliable sources of information which have shown to provide reliable squad details.
Data provided by, which is respected in Gibraltar football as one of the most reliable sources of information on squads outside of the official Gibraltar FA records provides a glimpse at what the current situation is in Gibraltar football.
The data which can be derived from a glimpse through squad lists provides a somewhat concerning environment for prospective national team selectors especially in relation to its defensive role.
Recent international matches saw Gibraltar beaten by Greece 5-0 with vulnerabilities in defence which raised concerns. The injury to Bernardo Lope, as well as the departure of Scott Wiseman, and an injury to Jayce Olivero, now heading for the Danish league left Gibraltar with a make-shift defence which was found to be vulnerable.
Gibraltar football’s reliance on foreign players in key roles has in recent seasons meant that roles such as those in defence have been taken up in part by foreign players. This leaving home grown players with few minutes under their belt.
The trend does not seem to have changed much as we enter the 2023/24 season.
With 56% of players listed by Transfermarkt being foreigners, the trend in maintaining a high level of reliance on imported talents seems to have continued into the 2023/24 season.
Data sourced from this site also shows that just eighty-five of the two hundred and ninety-six players listed are considered as natural defenders.
Alarm-bells will ring even further though when it is seen that only forty-three of these are home grown players, of which half of them have never been considered for the national team, and even less are considered first team choices. This leaving Gibraltar national team selectors with a limited pool from which to choose from.
With Gibraltar’s national team known for its defensive posture, the small numbers developing through club football as defenders will raise concern. Especially at a time when many of the more veteran players are already looking towards their retirement within the coming years.
Notably, clubs such as Europa, who have in the past provided some of the core players, along with Lincoln Red Imps, have this season seen a huge decline in their squads, especially among defenders.
Lincoln Red Imps continues to provide the core spine in defence, also joined by St Joseph whose main core of home grown players playing in defence are among those who are selected for the national squads.
There is, however, a trend which is not seen among other clubs whose reliance on foreign players in defence is clear to see from the latest squad figures.
With clubs pulling in one direction, whilst the national team pulls in another, the contrasting policies on the development of players and the benefits these provide seem to further highlighted as we enter the new season.
A reliance by clubs on focusing mainly on reaching European club competitions rather than developing players to play for their national side continues to see a difference in approach with respect to home grown player development.
With clubs already having wished for a reduced home grown player policy the reliance on foreign players seems to have not ceased adding to the concerns for the future.
Whilst official records have yet to be published, as we went to press, the latest available data online provided by Transfermarkt is a glimpse at what Gibraltar football can expect this season.
The data also providing further evidence of concerns around the future of clubs such as Europa and Glacis United who have the smallest squad numbers. Manchester 62 having one of the highest squad numbers in the league.

How Defenders are distributed across the league
Lincoln Red imps has six players who are considered defenders of which four are home grown players all of which are first team players

St Joseph have ten players whose natural position is in defence. Five of which are home grown players and from this one is out on loan. Only three would be considered first eleven potentials.

Bruno Magpies have eight players naturally considered defenders. Of these four are home grown players and only two are known to be first team choices.

Manchester 62 have thirteen players who naturally play in defence. Of these six are home grown players but only two would be considered as potential first team choices from previous seasons.

Mons Calpe have eleven players who are naturally defenders. Of this only four are home grown players. Two of which would be first team choices for any side they play for.

Lynx have just five players who are natural defenders within their ranks. Only one of which is a home grown player but has retired from international football.

Europa have only one player listed as a natural defender. This same player although a home grown player has not featured with the national team and is now in his 30s.

Lions Gibraltar have eleven players within their squad listed as defenders. Six of which are home grown players.

College 1975 have eight defenders listed in their squad eight of which are home grown players. None of which are known to have been selected in the past for the national squad

Europa Point have eight defenders within their lists of which four are home grown players one of which has been a past selection for the national side.

Glacis United have four players listed as defenders, although they have taken a player on loan from St Joseph. From their list of defenders none, except the St Joseph player would be a home grown player.

Glacis has just six home grown players listed within their squad, including the loanee.

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