Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold won’t represent England during the current international break due to a hamstring injury sustained while training with his club.
Instead of being part of the Three Lions camp, Alexander-Arnold headed to Dubai to continue his rehabilitation, aiming to be fit to play his part in the Reds’ challenge for a quadruple of trophies.
Trent’s enforced absence for the matches against Switzerland and Ivory Coast marks the latest of several roadblocks in his young international career.
While the Liverpool man is a key member of Jurgen Klopp’s squad, having made over 200 appearances for the Merseyside club to date, the same can’t be said about his status in Gareth Southgate’s set-up with the national side.
Since making his debut against Costa Rica almost four years ago, Alexander-Arnold has made only 13 starts for England, together with a further three substitute appearances.
Granted injuries such as the thigh issue that ruled him out of Euro 2020 last summer haven’t helped those numbers, but there’s no denying that Southgate doesn’t see Trent as an indispensable member of his side by any means.
That the England boss actually dropped a fit Alexander-Arnold from his squad three months before Euro 2020 very much supports that line of thinking.
One thing that definitely counts against Trent is the healthy amount of competition at international level for the right-back spot.
The likes of Reece James, Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier are part of a stacked roster of right-sided full-backs available to Southgate, leading some to question whether it is Alexander-Arnold’s pure defensive work that is limiting his opportunities at England level.
Beaten handily by each of his peers when it comes to tackling, dribbling and headers from both open play and set pieces, the raw numbers don’t paint Alexander-Arnold’s defensive output in the best light.
Of course, as Liverpool essentially employ Trent as an auxiliary winger, he wouldn’t necessarily be expected to top these charts, but the gap between Alexander-Arnold and the remaining trio on this graphic is still striking.
You can check it out for yourself below.
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s defensive stats don’t measure up to those of his rivals for the England right-back role
As outstanding as Trent has been in an attacking sense for Liverpool this season – and with 17 assists to his credit he truly has been superb – Southgate realistically doesn’t have the personnel to replicate the tactics that Jurgen Klopp operates at Anfield, assuming he even wanted to.
With that in mind, he likely won’t offer Alexander-Arnold the same unbridled freedom that he enjoys for Liverpool without compromising other areas of his side.
If Southgate is intent on having a pure right-back in his first-choice Three Lions side, then Trent is unlikely to be a nailed-on starter.
Quiz: How much do you remember about Gareth Southgate’s time at Crystal Palace?
Alexander-Arnold’s best prospects of regular international football, then, may come in a midfield role in the future – where he played for England against Andorra last September.
Many were baffled by the move at the time, but Southgate defended it in his post-match press conference.
“We wanted to have a look at playing him in a slightly more advanced role,” stated the England boss. “We know he’s got outstanding quality with the ball. And, of course, he finds himself in those positions with Liverpool. I don’t think we lost anything by having a look at it.”
Southgate clearly recognises Trent’s exceptional talent. However, whether he chooses to deploy the player in his customary right-back slot remains to be seen.
The Signing of the Season Show (Via The Football Terrace)