Gareth Southgate has left Trent Alexander-Arnold out of his England squad for Monday’s Nations League dead rubber against Germany, citing a need to pick players he believes in.
England have already been relegated from League A after failing to win any of their five matches, which have also only yielded a single goal.
The Three Lions’ form has been especially alarming given the World Cup starts in less than two months, with the Germany game essentially their final warm-up match.
With very little riding on the match at Wembley, it was assumed Southgate might take the chance to give opportunities to those who have been used sparingly.
But Southgate has instead given an indication as to who he does not appear to have complete faith in, with Alexander-Arnold – an unused substitute during Friday’s defeat to Italy – among those left out.
Fikayo Tomori, James Ward-Prowse and Jarrod Bowen are reportedly the others set to miss out, while Jack Grealish is suspended.
This exclusion is just the latest blow for Alexander-Arnold at international level, with the right-back seemingly underused considering his importance for Liverpool.
“Of course, he does have a fantastic range of passing, we’re blessed with different profiles of player in that position,” Southgate told reporters when discussing Alexander-Arnold’s irregularity for England.
— Trent Alexander-Arnold (@TrentAA) September 21, 2022
“If we play with wing-backs, [Kieran] Trippier and Reece James are also exceptional with the ball, in different ways, and we’re always having to look at the full package with everything and assess the players on all of their attributes.
“They’ve all been to Champions League finals, some of them have been to latter stages of major tournaments with us, Trent’s won the league, Trippier’s won the Spanish league, [Kyle] Walker’s won the English league; there are so many good attributes about them.
“It’s a really difficult position to make decisions on, but we have to go with the ones we believe [in], and ultimately I’ll be judged on the outcome, as we know.”
For Southgate, it is not simply a matter of putting Alexander-Arnold in the team and telling him to play his natural game; he operates in a certain way for Liverpool because Jurgen Klopp’s system allows him to thrive, and England have not yet managed to find such a solution.
“You can have a style of play and a way of playing, and a balance to the team, that… at Liverpool they find a way of playing that brings the best out of his attributes,” said Southgate.
“And that’s what we’re all trying to do with every team, you’re trying to build a team that accentuates the positives, and within the group protects yourselves against how the opponents might come from you.”