Roy Keane believes Trent Alexander-Arnold may have been trying “too hard” at times recently but is getting back in form by focusing on “what he’s good at”.
Alexander-Arnold provided a triple assist for England against San Marino in a 10-0 win on Monday night. Despite the lower level of opposition, it was a good reminder of his international credentials.
The Liverpool right-back hasn’t always been a starter under Gareth Southgate. Indeed, there is intense competition for the right-back place. Reece James, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker have all stood in his way at times.
But at club level, Alexander-Arnold’s form has been much better. Therefore, it has been questionable why he hasn’t been playing more for his country.
The 23-year-old missed Euro 2020 through injury but even before that his involvement was in doubt. Now, though, he is firmly back in the international frame.
One man who noticed his resurgence is former Manchester United captain Keane. The ITV pundit thought the reason Alexander-Arnold excelled against San Marino was because of the way he focused on his strong point of delivery.
Keane said: “Not a bad night for him considering he has got what, three or four assists tonight?
“Sometimes players do try too hard. We have seen that with one of the two younger players.
“But he got back to what he’s good at. Putting it in the right areas.
“Delivery. Fantastic – he talks about Beckham. He used to put it into areas. It’s not about picking people out, just put it into the right area and people will attack it.”
Even so, Keane warned Alexander-Arnold that he may have to adjust his style to maintain his place in the lineup for the long-term.
There is every chance, though, due to a reminder that the Liverpool academy graduate is still learning his trade.
Keane added: “Again, he is 23. He is learning about the game. Sometimes you do have to adapt if you want to get in.
“You talk about him as a wing-back. I think he can play that role, but obviously his strength is at right-back.
“He is brilliant at it, he is absolutely brilliant it. But he is 23. He is still learning about the game. He is not at his peak yet.”
Southgate praises England pair
Speaking after the win over San Marino, England manager Southgate pointed to the contributions of two other players too.
On Harry Kane’s four-goal display, he said: “If we left him on another half an hour, we would have had Wayne Rooney’s family on the phone.
“He is a phenomenal goalscorer, we wanted to give him the chance tonight and he took it well.”
Southgate also had praise for full debutant Emile Smith Rowe, adding: “I thought Emile has given a good account all week. His tight control is exceptional and he has to continue what he is doing. We finished with a young side tonight.”
On the overall result, which sealed World Cup qualification, he said: “The qualification was earned away in Budapest, Warsaw and Albania. I have to credit all our players and staff for a very good year.
“We cannot do anything about the level of opposition but the mentality and the way they applied themselves was terrific.”