Southgate blasts ‘nonsense’ Alexander-Arnold reports after including Liverpool star in England squad for Euro 2020


The 22-year-old received the nod over Jesse Lingard despite speculation that he would be left at home this summer

England boss Gareth Southgate has taken aim at “nonsense” stories after including Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold in his final Euro 2020 squad. 

The right-back was allegedly close to missing out on the tournament following a mixed season with the Reds over the course of 2020-21. 

However he made the cut in Southgate’s 26-man selection, and the manager was not happy to have read reports to the contrary.

What was said?

“I spoke to Trent three weeks ago. There were stories over the last couple of weeks with lots of strange headlines, I have no idea where they have come from,” he told reporters after confirming England’s Euros squad on Tuesday.

“I felt that there were stories that ran that were so far off the truth. I read stories about me that aren’t true but when it’s a player they may feel like they’re reading it so it may be true.

“Last night we were dealing with that, in the morning he’s taking set pieces preparing for tomorrow and then he’s reading that he is not going to the Euros.
 

“That’s the world I live in but I want to protect my players. I spoke to Trent last night to say ‘don’t know where this is coming from, it’s nonsense’. People jump on it and say I have an agenda or don’t like the kid. It is an incredible situation.”

Alexander-Arnold’s inclusion leaves England spoilt for choice at right-back, with Kieran Trippier, Reece James and Kyle Walker also included in the squad. 

 “We went through this last week. We have four players that play sometimes at right-back for their clubs,” Southgate added. “Basically they are in the best 26 footballers and that is why they are in the squad.

“If I could have picked five or six right-backs I would have done.”

“Everybody wants to play” 

Southgate also assured that there would be plenty of competition for places in his starting XI, with all of his picks in contention. 

“Everybody wants to play and that can affect our decision making in these two matches and the training sessions in the lead up.” he said. “We have got a very good idea of what we want to do, but that’s always got to be open to change – and that’s the opportunity the players have in the next two games.”

Euro 2020 Top 100 Harry Maguire

Two of the biggest question marks in the England squad hang over Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson, who are currently carrying injuries. 

“The most complex part has been those injuries and whether we should take the chance on people – players like Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire not being quite where they normally are,” Southgate said.

“With the experience that they have, we think we can get them to a point where they have an involvement in the tournament and it’s worth taking them – especially as we have an extended squad of 26.”

The unlucky seven

There will also be a role to play for six of the players who failed to make the cut in England’s upcoming friendlies against Austria and Romania.

“You never want to give bad news,” Southgate said. “It’s lovely to give people debuts and bring them into the squad for the first time, but it’s much harder to deliver difficult news.

“With the lads this time – there were three who knew they were coming in for the experience of training with us and for these two matches – and we’re really pleased with Ben White, Ben Godfrey and Aaron Ramsdale. They have added a lot to the group.

“For me personally, very difficult to speak to Jesse Lingard, who has given so much for England over a long period of time. James Ward-Prowse, who has captained the under-21s, and Ollie Watkins, who has had a tremendous season with Aston Villa.

“Those three, I gave them the option of going home, but they were all adamant they wanted to stay and be a part of the group. I think Jesse will probably start tomorrow [Wednesday, against Austria].

“Their commitment and professionalism has been exemplary and it meant yesterday afternoon when I had the conversation with those players, although they were disappointed, they knew where they stood and the atmosphere around the camp has stayed positive.”

Manchester United forward Mason Greenwoood was also cut from the 33-man preliminary squad due to injury.

Further reading 



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