Under-pressure England boss Gareth Southgate has insisted he does “not see a risk” in playing Trent Alexander-Arnold, but has left the Liverpool man out of Monday’s squad to face Germany.
Alexander-Arnold was an unused sub in the 1-0 defeat against Italy in Milan on Friday and he will return to Kirkby this week without kicking a ball.
Injuries has blighted his chances with the Three Lions in the last 12 months. But the 23-year-old has only played once for England in the last 11 months. Southgate afforded the Reds man a start in 1-0 defeat to Hungary at the start of June.
Alexander-Arnold would have been hoping for some action, even if from the bench this week. But being left out of the final game before the World Cup in November his Qatar hopes look to be in tatters.
Southgate has left Alexander-Arnold, Fikayo Tomori, James Ward-Prowse and Jarrod Bowen out of his matchday squad to face Germany at Wembley. It means the Three Lions boss will go with either Walker and or James or Trippier on the right side.
It makes for bleak reading for Southgate, though, with England’s pre-tournament form never being worse than now.
According to the Daily Mirror, Southgate was “clearly sensitive about the issue” when probed about Alexander-Arnold’s England chances. The former Middlesbrough manager said he was not worried by playing the Liverpool man, but he clearly has others ahead of the Reds star.
Southgate said: “I don’t see risks. You can have a style of play and a way of playing, and a balance to the team, that… at Liverpool they find a way of playing that brings the best out of his attributes and that’s what we’re all trying to do with every team.
‘We have to go with the ones we believe’
“You’re trying to build a team that accentuates the positives. And within the group protects yourselves against how the opponents might come from you.
“He does have a fantastic range of passing, we’re blessed with different profiles of player in that position. If we play with wing-backs, Trippier and Reece James are also exceptional with the ball, in different ways, and we’re always having to look at the full package with everything.
“If you assess the players on all of their attributes, they’ve all been to Champions League finals, some of them have been to latter stages of major tournaments with us. Trent’s won the league, Trippier’s won the Spanish league, Walker’s won the English league.
“There are so many good attributes about them. It’s a really difficult position to make decisions on, but we have to go with the ones we believe, and ultimately I’ll be judged on the outcome, as we know.”
Southgate has decided to select a number of players in his squad who have not been featuring regularly for their clubs, namely Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw.
Southgate chances squad stance
It’s a stance which has flown against his initial ethos when he took over in 2016. Then he claimed he would not pick on “reputation”.
But with the World Cup around the corner, he has now stated that players who are established in the set-up “have a better chance” of getting in the team.
Southgate said: “Of course, everybody wants to get into the team and onto the pitch. But you have a better chance of doing that if you have been in the group longer and used to how we play and feel more comfortable with the players.
“So whatever happens, this has been a useful exercise for him and for us. I remember I was in the stands for my first two international camps. They were a little bit shorter but that was the way Terry Venables embedded me into the group.
“Sometimes we have done it that way and sometimes we haven’t. I understand the push as it is so close to the World Cup but there is life for Ivan Toney beyond the World Cup as well. He is very much in the frame and what he does with his club between now and then is also really important.”