Ian Wright has questioned the handling of Trent Alexander-Arnold’s England omission by head coach Gareth Southgate.
The Liverpool man was “harshly” left out of the current squad for the World Cup qualifying triple header. Southgate pointed to the full-back not playing “at the level that he found in the last couple of years”. Instead the Three Lions chief picked Reece James, Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier as his right-back options and all three have had a taste of action in the wins over San Marino and Albania.
Southgate claimed the door was open for the 22-year-old, who was not under consideration for the Under-21 tournament. Southgate though also namechecked Matty Cash and Luke Ayling who were also rivalling Alexander-Arnold for a place in the squad.
For Wright though the decision to axe the Liverpool defender, who was PFA Young Player of the Year last season, left him confused.
“The level of competition, you can’t argue with Reece James and his emergence,” Wright told ITV Sport during England’s 2-0 win in Albania.
“I think James Justin before he got his injury, he’d have got into this squad for these three games. I’m a bit confused by Gareth and the harshness of this.
“He said it’s ‘because of form’ but we’ve seen players in England squads who haven’t been picked on form. With what Trent has gone through, the meteoric rise he went on. Now injuries have started to come, players not playing with him, midfielders not playing with him, it’s affected his game.
“Yes, there’s a dip in form but for him to be left out on form when I’ve seen players picked for England who have been on bad form, it seems a little harsh.
“Just say to him, ‘you’re not in my plans because I have him, him and him’, rather than say ‘form’. I found that a bit harsh.”
Southgate says Trent has time
Earlier this month Southgate knocked back claims it would now be unrealistic for Alexander-Arnold to make the squad for Euro 2020.
“There is a small opportunity in terms of our matches but there is a quarter of a season at club level,” he said.
“That includes some big Champions League games as well. That door is definitely open. I realistically did not think I would be sitting here today picking a squad with John Stones and Jesse Lingard in it.
“Trent is closer to this squad than they were to our autumn squads four months ago.
“That really is why it is wide open. We have to have competition for places if we are going to have a successful team. People will take that challenge on and that raises the performance.