Trent could be England midfield option: Southgate considers Euro 2020 role for Alexander-Arnold

By Sports Desk May 25, 2021

Trent Alexander-Arnold received praise to go with his recall from Gareth Southgate as the England boss hedged his bets for Euro 2020 by naming a 33-man provisional squad.

The Liverpool right-back could yet face exclusion agony when Southgate trims his list to 26 next week, but for now Alexander-Arnold is back in the England picture.

Once seen as a player who would hold down the right full-back berth for England for years to come, the 22-year-old was dramatically dropped from Southgate's squad in March, with the head coach questioning his recent level of performance at club level.

Atletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier and Manchester City's Kyle Walker – both title winners with their clubs this season – look to be ahead of Alexander-Arnold, who may be battling Chelsea's Reece James for a place in the final group.

After a late-season surge to a Champions League place by Liverpool, helped by an improved Alexander-Arnold, the England head coach was left with a quandary.

"I could easily get drawn into individuals who might be in the 26, get myself in a mess," said Southgate in a news conference following his squad announcement.

"People feel I have an obsession with right-backs. I see four good footballers. Trippier can play right-back or left-back, Trent can play right-back, wing-back. I think he can play in midfield.

"In the last few days I've seen Reece James play right in a three, at wing-back, in midfield. We're going to a tournament and those sorts of flexible players that can fulfill different roles but are good footballers are going to be hugely important for us.

"We don't know how it will play out with injuries, what our best systems will be with people available, we've got too many question marks.

"That will all become far clearer. We know what we'd like to do, we've got good contingencies in place."

Southgate selected an expanded squad because of injury worries over the likes of Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson, the captains of Manchester United and Liverpool. By including Alexander-Arnold, Southgate at least delays any criticism over his exclusion, and it may be that a space opens up for the attack-minded defender.

Alexander-Arnold is a slightly different flavour of defender to Southgate's other options, as a player who had 13 assists in Liverpool's 2019-20 title-winning campaign and seven in the league season just ended.

James has just two Premier League assists in 2020-21 and Walker only one, with the City defender creating just eight chances compared to the 77 set up by Alexander-Arnold. Trippier assisted on six goals in LaLiga, however.

 

James, Walker and Trippier are all well ahead of Alexander-Arnold in terms of dribble and tackle success rates, and Southgate can be expected to be aware of such factors.

Alexander-Arnold's 2020-21 league dribble success rate stood at just 47.06 per cent, with Walker posting 53.33 per cent, James 65.38 per cent and Trippier 76 per cent.

In tackling success, Alexander-Arnold's 58.93 per cent success rate was beaten by his three right-back rivals, who each scored at least 63 per cent, led by 65.52 per cent by Walker.

The Liverpool man's attempted dribbles may at times have been high-tariff manoeuvres, given he regularly plays high up the field, but Alexander-Arnold loses possession at a rate that could give England problems. He gave up the ball 25.49 times on average per 90 minutes in 2020-21 league action, compared to 14.83 by James, 16.35 by Trippier and a mere 13.32 by Walker.

As Southgate toys with that big call, he must also decide whether Mason Greenwood, United's 19-year-old forward, makes the cut.

Greenwood scored just seven Premier League goals at one every 261 minutes in 2020-21 but, after a strong end to the campaign, he has again caught the eye of England's manager, who sent him home along with Phil Foden at the start of the season after a breach of COVID-19 protocol while on national team duty in Iceland.

"In terms of the past it is absolutely the past," Southgate said. "Young people make mistakes, we move on from it, the same with Phil [Foden].

"He's an absolutely outstanding finisher, no question about that."

Related items

  • India wrestle back control of first Test through Axar Patel brilliance India wrestle back control of first Test through Axar Patel brilliance

    The first Test between India and New Zealand swung back in the hosts' favour on Saturday thanks to the brilliance of Axar Patel.

    The left-arm spinner accounted for Tom Latham, who was just five runs short of a century, before making light work of the lower order to finish with figures of 5-62.

    It was the fifth five-four Axar has recorded in his previous seven innings in Test cricket and it seemed to inspire the rest of India's attack as they left New Zealand all out on 296.

    Latham and Will Young had put New Zealand in a commanding position of 129-0 at the close of day two, and their partnership of 151 steered the Black Caps to 213-2 despite the best efforts of Axar and Ravichandran Ashwin (3-82).

    However, the match changed course in the afternoon session. Umesh Yadav trapped Kane Williamson lbw after the captain managed just 18 off 64 deliveries, and Axar took the wickets of Ross Taylor (11) and Henry Nicholls (2) while only giving up 14 runs in an 11-over spell.

    Tom Blundell and Tim Southee were then skittled by Axar, who capped his performance by catching Kyle Jamieson just as he was building up steam on 23.

    There was time for India to put some runs on the board before the light faded, although the excitable crowd in Kanpur was stunned into eerie silence when Jamieson bowled Shubman Gill for his 50th Test wicket with the first ball of the second over.

    India will resume on day four on 14-1 with a lead of 63 runs.

    Axar hogging the limelight

    New Zealand looked to have the match under their control at 196-1 until Axar intervened. It was his fifth five-wicket haul of 2021; the last player to record as many in the year of his Test debut was Australia's Rodney Hogg back in 1978.

    "Taking five wickets in seven innings is something the other team-mates have been teasing me about. It's like a dream within a dream start," he said.

    Jamieson keeps up New Zealand spirits

    After failing to make the most of Latham and Young's impressive opening stand, New Zealand heads were down as India began their second innings.

    However, Jamieson's terrific ball to Gill might just have halted the hosts' momentum. It also made the 26-year-old the fastest man to reach 50 Test wickets for New Zealand, his half-century coming in just nine matches, with previous record-holder Shane Bond doing so in 12.

  • Man Utd striker Cavani steps up recovery but still a doubt for Chelsea clash Man Utd striker Cavani steps up recovery but still a doubt for Chelsea clash

    Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani spent the international break in Uruguay stepping up his recovery, but he remains a doubt to feature against Chelsea on Sunday.

    A tendon problem has prevented Cavani from featuring for United since a substitute appearance in the Red Devils' 2-2 draw with Atalanta on November 2, missing the losses to Manchester City and Watford that spelled the end of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's reign, as well as the most recent victory over Villarreal.

    The 34-year-old also missed out on the chance to represent his country, with Uruguay slipping to defeat against Argentina and Bolivia, putting their World Cup qualification hopes in jeopardy and leading to the sacking of Oscar Tabarez as head coach after 15 years in the role. 

    The veteran striker is now eager to get back out on the pitch after spending the international break in his homeland to focus on his rehabilitation.

    Cavani also revealed that the trip gave him an opportunity to spend valuable time with his family.

    "During this period of the international break, I've had the chance to stop and focus on this niggling injury that I'm feeling in the tendon in my leg, so I can speed up my recovery and come back quickly and be available for my club and national team," Cavani told the club's official website.

    "So, during this time, I was able to spend a few days in Uruguay, do some fitness and recovery work and stuff and, in turn, I managed to see my family at the same time, which is always important, to see your family and be close to them."

    Eighth-placed United face Premier League leaders Chelsea on Sunday in caretaker manager Michael Carrick's second game in charge and will be hoping for another positive result after the 2-0 Champions League win over Villarreal on Tuesday.

    It remains unclear if Cavani will be able to boost his side's chances with his availability, or if his comeback will have to wait until the Red Devils' subsequent game against Arsenal at Old Trafford on December 2.

  • Streaking Suns keeping eyes on NBA prize as record looms Streaking Suns keeping eyes on NBA prize as record looms

    The Phoenix Suns are keeping their eyes on the prize as they target NBA glory, with Chris Paul and Devin Booker playing down the team's winning streak.

    Phoenix made it 15 consecutive wins thanks to Friday's 118-97 victory over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

    Paul's 14 points and 10 assists, and Booker's 32 points fuelled the Suns to within two wins of equalling their franchise record for consecutive victories – 17 in 2006-07.

    But after falling short in last season's NBA Finals, Paul and the Suns are solely focused on the business end of the campaign.

    "This ain't a playoff game tomorrow [Sunday]," Paul said post-game in New York, where the Suns improved to 16-3 – a record only bettered by Western Conference rivals the Golden State Warriors (17-2) this season.

    "It's good for us to go out there and compete, and we're probably gonna see different coverages and all that, but we're just trying to build, build.

    "It's not about winning a game in November."

    "We just wanted to get it going," said All-Star Booker. "It's no secret we have a streak going, and we're going to get every team's best shot.

    "The whole NBA knows about that, so we just tried to set the tone early. Come out, play team basketball ... we did our job tonight."

    Booker added: "We do one at a time. We know we have a tough opponent tomorrow that's been waiting on us, well-rested.

    "So we just have to come in with the same mentality, play the type of basketball that we do, defend at a high level and put ourselves in good shape to get it done."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.