Trent Alexander-Arnold ‘very much in England contention’ as Gareth Southgate hints at midfield role

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Gareth Southgate insists Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold is “very much in contention” to make England’s final squad for this summer’s European Championships.

Alexander-Arnold was dropped ahead of the most recent international break but is back in the fold after being included in Southgate’s expanded 33-man provisional list for the tournament.

That must be whittled down to 26 by June 1, and with fellow right-backs Reece James, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker also included, the presumption is that one of the quartet will miss out.

Walker and James still have the small matter of a Champions League final to come through before linking up with the Three Lions, but Southgate insists that Alexander-Arnold is not reliant on one of that duo picking up an injury to make the final cut.

“It’s not that straightforward,” Southgate said. “Everyone sees these as four right-backs but there’s a lot more to all of those players. We need versatility, we need competition for places and we are still unclear on certain injuries. Trent is very much in contention.”

Alexander-Arnold’s club form has improved markedly in the second-half of the season, and in recent weeks he has played a key role in helping revive Liverpool’s season with a top four finish.

Southgate revealed that he has been in touch with the 22-year-old more than any other player in the build-up to his squad announcement.

“People think I don’t think Trent is a good footballer,” the England boss added. “That just isn’t the case. He has indirectly come in for some criticism and I felt the need to communicate more with him than anyone else over the past couple of months but I think his performances have been very good.

“I’m a little bit surprised by some of the things that have been written because people just don’t know those communications that have gone on. But that is credit to Trent that he has kept that to himself.

“He is a very good footballer, that has never been in any doubt, and he’s with us next week and we go from there.”

Liverpool FC via Getty Images
Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Southgate also voiced his belief that Alexander-Arnold could have a future in midfield, pointing to the versatility of both him and James as reasons why he did not necessarily have to drop one of the four right-backs he has named.

“I think there is no doubt he could [play in midfield],” he added. “Of course the difficulty is he hasn’t had the opportunity to do that since he was a younger player and that’s where he came through in Liverpool’s academy.

“He’s a fantastic passer of the ball and he has great passing vision. So he’s a playmaker from right-back, that’s kind of what he is. So why wouldn’t that lend itself at some point of his career to being in midfield?

“But Jurgen has got fantastic performances out of him in the role he has with the structure of the team the way they have, so I’m sure he’s not thinking of needing to change that. But he’s capable in the same way that Reece played in midfield at Wigan.

“I saw him slot in there for 35 minutes the other day for Chelsea, absolutely no problem. These boys are outstanding footballers.

“They’re better in some of those other positions than other options we would have had and that’s why we’ve picked them.”

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