Jamie Carragher can appreciate why Trent Alexander-Arnold has been dropped from the latest England squad, but feels a Liverpool full-back who models his game on Barcelona legend Dani Alves should have a prominent role to play for the Three Lions long term.
Struggles for form domestically have led to the Champions League and Premier League title winner at being omitted from Gareth Southgate’s plans for the start of 2022 World Cup qualification.
A door is being left open for a future recall, with time still very much on the side of the talented 22-year-old, and the general consensus is that the Merseyside native will become a better player and stronger person for having faced adversity at this stage of his career.
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What has been said?
Liverpool legend Carragher, who earned 38 England caps of his own, has offered his take on Southgate’s snubbing of the Reds star by telling The Telegraph: “Trent Alexander-Arnold’s omission from the England squad is no surprise to me. I’ve had my suspicions for a while that the Liverpool defender is in a fight to make it to the European Championships.
“The decision from Gareth Southgate is controversial but understandable. I don’t agree with it because in a head-to-head with Kieran Trippier, for me it's a no-brainer. Alexander-Arnold should be picked.
“Since he made his Liverpool debut, Alexander-Arnold has been a midfielder converted into a full-back. He has flourished by growing in a side which wants domination with the ball, thriving when Liverpool had its usual back four and covering midfielders who have enabled him to play as much like a wide midfielder than defender.
“Strange as it sounds for a full-back, defending has never been his strongest asset. He has sometimes struggled in one-on-one defensive or man-marking situations. Naturally, when Liverpool’s back four and midfield was destabilised by injuries at the start of this season, that became more apparent.
“Trent has often cited Barcelona’s Dani Alves as his hero. That’s perfect when Liverpool are swarming all over the opposition. That has not been the case for the last eight months, and never will be for England in an international tournament.”
Carragher added: “I disagree with leaving Trent out of the squad completely because there will still be times when England face sides intent on defending deep, especially in the group stages. That’s when Alexander-Arnold’s skills can be invaluable. His set-pieces can also be decisive in close games. James may be suited to some opponents, Alexander-Arnold to others. That’s why I would pick Alexander-Arnold ahead of Trippier.
“Being left out of the next few England games is no more than a bump in the road in a career which has already hit the greatest heights at club level. He will be back in an England shirt soon enough.
“And if the next time he gets the jersey he has more of an edge because he thinks he has something to prove, it may provoke the reaction Southgate is looking for.”
How many times has Alexander-Arnold played for England?
Despite being a mainstay for Liverpool, with over 160 appearances made for the Reds, Alexander-Arnold has rarely been a regular for his country.
He has made just 12 appearances for the Three Lions to date, with that tally of caps placing him behind the likes of Mason Mount, Declan Rice and Jadon Sancho.
That is despite a senior international debut being made in the summer of 2018 against Costa Rica and going to the World Cup finals that summer.
Alexander-Arnold now faces a fight to win his squad place back, with Manchester United full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka another of those battling with Trippier, Reece James and Kyle Walker for the right to fill a prominent role for England.