Gareth Southgate urges “unfortunate” Trent to respond to England challenge – Liverpool FC

Gareth Southgate has challenged disappointed Trent Alexander-Arnold to find his way into his plans for Euro 2020 after surprisingly catching Liverpool right-back for the World Cup qualifiers in England.

The 26-man squad for this month’s internationals included new players and returning faces, with the manager’s most surprising decision being the omission of the 22-year-old full-back.

Alexander-Arnold has long been seen as a shoo-in for the revamped European Championship this summer, despite England’s glut of options at right-back, but this month he will be away .

Southgate fended off Reece James, Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier, who recently returned from their 10-week betting ban with the Football Association, but is hoping the Reds full-back responds like the latter couple did during of their abandonment.

“There are areas of the pitch where we have an incredible competition for places and Trent is very unhappy,” said the England manager.

“I don’t think he’s played at the level he’s found in the last few years, but I think he’s getting a lot closer to it now. I think over the past few weeks he’s definitely made some steps in the right direction.

“It’s just that we think Reece James, Kieran Trippier have really had exceptional seasons with their clubs.

“Kyle Walker is in great shape with Manchester City so we have other players in the league who are playing well in this role as well.

“(Matty) Cash at Aston Villa, (Luke) Ayling at Leeds, so it’s a really (strong) position. We have two very good U21 right-backs. It is a remarkable position of strength.

“What I said to Trent earlier today, I’ve made the same call to Kyle and Kieran in the past and their response has been good.

“They rose to the challenge and they ended up in the squad and of course Trent is a great talent and I’m sure he will play a big role in England in the future.

“He’s missing this time, but we could very well be sitting here before the summer and he’s with us.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Thursday 8th October 2020: Trent Alexander-Arnold of England, wearing a face mask, before the International Friendly between England and Wales at Wembley Stadium.  The match was played behind closed doors due to UK government social distancing laws prohibiting supporters from attending events inside stadiums in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.  England won 3-0.  (Photo by David Rawcliffe / Propaganda)

Alexander-Arnold was part of the England squad that reached the World Cup semi-finals in 2018, with the Premier League-winning right-back being last selected against Belgium in October.

Asked about the reaction of the full-back at 12 caps after being overlooked for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland, Southgate told talkSPORT: “Of course, disappointed.

“He’s very proud to play for England and nobody wants to get that call to say you’re not going to be part of the squad.

“But I felt with him in particular that it was important … you know a lot of other players who are not selected I had discussions with them in previous camps about how I see their game and there are some who are not playing regularly with their clubs With Trent it’s a different situation.

“We know he’s a very talented player, but we only have a few players who we think have played better so far this season and with us in the fall.

“Reece James was exceptional with us in the fall and last night his performance for Chelsea kind of underscored that, I think, in a top game.

England manager Gareth Southgate (Mike Egerton / PA)

“Trent is very unhappy. I think his game over the last few weeks has increased a lot, he’s taking a closer look at where he was.

“He’s had an unfortunate season which started with him missing a lot of training because of Covid and the club obviously had a tough season too so I have no doubt he will play for England in the future.

“Like I said earlier, we could be sitting here in front of the Euro with him back in the squad and that’s the challenge he has to meet.”

Southgate has also dismissed claims that it will now be unrealistic for Alexander-Arnold to make the squad for the summer, saying he has ample time to claim his rights.

“There is a small opportunity in terms of matches but there is a quarter of a season at club level,” he added.

“It also includes some big Champions League games. That door is definitely open – I didn’t realistically think I would be sitting here today picking a team with John Stones and Jesse Lingard.

“Trent is closer to this team than they were to our fall teams four months ago.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday February 3, 2021: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the FA Premier League game between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield.  (Photo by David Rawcliffe / Propaganda)

“That’s really why it’s wide open. We have to have competition for places if we are to have a successful team. People will take on this challenge and it will increase performance.

“You can see the teams that do well in the clubs all the time. You can try to motivate the players as a coach with what you say, and the games of course motivate the players, but this competition for the two places in training – which has to play at the highest level every day – is what drives performance.

“We have more of this competition in some areas than in others. We would ideally have it in all positions. But there are close appeals in all of these areas. “

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