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Trent Alexander-Arnold not a 'natural replacement' for axed flop, says Gareth Southgate

Gareth Southgate - Trent Alexander-Arnold
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)


Gareth Southgate seemed to suggest the reason behind Trent Alexander-Arnold enduring midfield frustrations for England at Euro 2024 was because the Liverpool star is "not the natural replacement" for Manchester City flop Kalvin Phillips.

Despite playing for Liverpool at right-back, Alexander-Arnold has been tasked with an unfamiliar role in the Three Lions team with Southgate attempting to play the 25-year-old in a double pivot in center-midfield alongside Declan Rice.

However, his experiment hasn’t gone as he, Alexander-Arnold, and England would have liked with the Scouser enduring two miserable games in England’s opening group matches in the tournament. Alexander-Arnold looked out of place in the middle of the park and has twice been substituted off early in the second half.

In England’s uninspiring 1-0 win against Serbia last Sunday, Alexander-Arnold was replaced by Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher on the 70-minute mark. And it got worse for him in the Three Lions’ 1-1 draw against Denmark on Wednesday when he was again hooked for Gallagher, this time after just 54 minutes.

READ MORE: Trent Alexander-Arnold deserves better - and Gareth Southgate knows it
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Speaking after the drab draw, Southgate was forced to explain his thinking behind Alexander-Arnold’s underwhelming tournament so far in his new role as the England manager again comes under pressure for his negative tactics. Southgate explained: “We wanted to get Conor on, we needed some energy, we needed to press better. Conor does that very well."

Expanding on Alexander-Arnold’s role and performances, he continued: “He’s had some moments where he has delivered what we thought he would. We know it’s an experiment and we know we don’t have a natural replacement for a Kalvin Phillips, but we are trying some different things and at the moment we are not flowing as we like.”

Kalvin Phillips
Kalvin Phillips was integral to England's Euro 2020 campaign

Phillips has been Southgate’s go-to man to anchor the Three Lions’ midfield with a starring performance in England’s run to the Euro 2020 final. But the Manchester City man has suffered massively since switching from Leeds United in 2022 for £43million ($54.5m).

The 28-year-old has played just 31 times for City in 18 months before a wretched loan to West Ham in January left him virtually impossible to be selected in the final 26-man squad. It remains to be seen whether Southgate will continue to pursue his Alexander-Arnold experiment. However, the form of Kyle Walker at right-back could mean enduring in midfield if he is to stay in the starting line-up.