Gary Neville slams 'illegal' Trent Alexander-Arnold decision in U-turn against Liverpool star

Gary Neville is a pundit for ITV Sport for Euro 2024
-Credit: (Image: ITV Sport)

Gary Neville slammed Gareth Southgate's decision not to play Trent Alexander-Arnold in England's Euro 2024 last-16 victory over Slovakia.

After falling behind to a 25th-minute goal from forward Ivan Schranz, the Three Lions required a late, spectacular overhead kick from Jude Bellingham to draw level in Sunday's tie before Harry Kane secured victory with a header just seconds into extra time.

But despite setting up a quarter-final clash against Switzerland, for large parts of the tie in Gelsenkirchen, England's performance was sluggish and uninspiring, as they mustered just one shot on target before Bellingham's 95th-minute effort.

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And as England trailed to Schranz's first-half finish, Neville labelled Southgate's decision not to include Liverpool defender Alexander-Arnold in the starting XI as "illegal".

“We’ve watched this now for three and a half games," said Neville at half-time. "We tried to be really positive pre-match thinking that this would be the game today this England team would turn [it around].

“I don’t think it’s a case of one or two substitutes, I think he had to get three on the pitch. We’ve got to see Palmer, Trent and Gordon. He’s got to shift the whole narrative around this game.

"Gordon will give you a runner and we know Palmer is in better form at the moment than any of those players out on that pitch. Trent Alexander-Arnold, it’s illegal that lad isn’t playing football in a game like this for England today. That kid is the best player we’ve ever seen at full-back in this country. He’s got to be on the pitch.”

Alexander-Arnold started England's first two games of this summer's finals against Serbia and Denmark but was dropped to the substitute's bench in place of Conor Gallagher and Kobbie Mainoo against Slovenia and Slovakia.

Neville's clamouring for Alexander-Arnold to be selected for Sunday's clash was quite the U-turn from the view he held about the Liverpool defender before the 2022 World Cup finals.

Prior to the tournament in Qatar, the former Manchester United right-back insisted Alexander-Arnold could be a liability for the Three Lions in the knockout stages.

"It's a really tough one with Alexander-Arnold," said Neville. "His brilliance going forward is out of this world. But we're talking about knockout football.

"Whether England win or lose in a World Cup is going to be down to moments. A mistake - concentration. In this moment in time, I can't see how Gareth can go into a knockout game in a World Cup playing Trent Alexander-Arnold.

"I want this player to be the greatest right-back of all time because he's got the ability to do that. But at times at Tottenham, he looked like he could cost Liverpool dearly."