Micah Richards believes Trent Alexander-Arnold’s European Championship hopes are all but extinguished after his shock omission from the England squad.
Gareth Southgate this week named a 26-man England squad to face San Marino, Albania and Poland and Liverpool ace Alexander-Arnold was missing.
Instead Southgate went with Reece James, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker as his right-back options and then named two uncapped full-backs who were also under consideration.
Southgate explained that Alexander-Arnold has not “played at the level that he found in the last couple of years” and pointed to the form of the three right-back options in his squad.
The door is still open for the 22-year-old, according to Southgate, but Richards feels Alexander-Arnold is unlikely to change the mind of Southgate in time for the Euros this summer.
The former Manchester City man, who had a similar experience under Three Lions boss Fabio Capello, says there’s an issue of trust.
“When the phone call comes, it’s difficult to process your emotions. First comes shock. After that, you are upset. Then anger arrives before, finally, embarrassment stings,” Richards wrote in his Daily Mail column.
“Trent Alexander-Arnold will have gone through all that on Thursday morning after his conversation with Gareth Southgate. I know because I’ve been there. People who say playing for England doesn’t matter should put themselves in a footballer’s shoes when he is not picked for a squad.
“I was initially shocked when I didn’t see Alexander-Arnold’s name on the list for the forthcoming games against San Marino, Albania and Poland. Part of me, though, wasn’t totally surprised as it felt for some time that Southgate isn’t quite sure about him.
“I’ve said on many occasions that I’m a big admirer of Southgate. He’s been brilliant for England, he’s an approachable and fair man. However, I believe Trent is one of the best attacking right backs in the business. He would be in my squad every time.
“What it says to me is that there is an issue of trust. Southgate can’t have faith in Alexander-Arnold to do what he wants him to do and, if that is the case, then I find it hard to see how the young Liverpool star plays at the Euros.”
Richards says he had a tough time in the England squad under Italian Fabio Capello and was eventually dropped by Roy Hodgson, However, Hodgson never told him, it was left to Stuart Pearce.
Richards wrote: “The end came when Roy Hodgson was manager in 2012. Rather than speak to me, he left it to Stuart Pearce to make the phone call. ‘Micah,’ he said. ‘Sorry about this, but Roy isn’t putting you in the squad.’
“I couldn’t understand why Hodgson didn’t make the call. Of course it’s hard to be objective. But I couldn’t process why I hadn’t done enough to get to the tournament. Sometimes you’re just not the right fit in the opinion of a certain manager.
“That’s why I’m anxious for what all this means for Trent. Southgate, it goes without saying, is not a man like Capello and has seemingly overseen one of the happiest camps England have ever known. If Trent rang him up and asked to go to St George’s Park to discuss where he feels he needs to improve, he would be welcoming. His message would be clear, I’ve no doubt about it.”
‘Southgate knows his England squad already’
Richards believes whatever Alexander-Arnold does now for the champions until the end of the season will be immaterial. The Sky Sports pundit believes Southgate’s mind is made up.
“But it just feels now that Trent will have to do something spectacular to get back in Southgate’s thoughts for the Euros,” added Richards.
“Even if he does that, I’m not sure that it will make a difference. The fact Southgate namechecked other right backs such as Matty Cash and Luke Ayling shows the fight Trent is in.
“I also feel Southgate knows his squad already. Plenty of players have done enough to deserve a chance. Michael Keane, Lewis Dunk, Ezri Konsa and Patrick Bamford. But there are names on that list who are always there, regardless of how they are doing for their club.
“Trent cannot let this affect him. He cannot forget that there is a World Cup around the corner. If I was to give him advice, it would be this: don’t burn your bridges.
“As much as this stings, he must remember there is a World Cup in 18 months. England cannot be without talents like his and I hope he’s back in Gareth’s thoughts again in the near future.”