Gareth Southgate has admitted he is trying to find a way to maximise Trent Alexander-Arnold’s impact with England.
The Liverpool right-back has been sensational at club level, earning a reputation as perhaps the country’s best passer and undoubtedly one of the game’s top creators, but that has not translated to the international stage and Alexander-Arnold has even struggled to hold down a regular place in Southgate’s lineup.
He played 62 minutes in the 1-0 defeat to Hungary and was an unused substitute in the Germany draw before leaving the camp to enjoy a well-earned rest, meaning he will not feature against Italy on Saturday.
In the build-up to the game, Southgate acknowledged the ongoing struggle he has when it comes to the Liverpool defender.
“Trent’s a fantastic player, I don’t think anybody has ever heard me say differently,” Southgate said.
“We could only really play him in one game this camp. He pulled out in March. He wasn’t fit for the Euros. Because he’s a great footballer, I tried him in midfield – there was some validity in looking at that.
“The way Liverpool play gets the best out of him and that’s to do with the pressing, it’s to do with the way they defend. They get him into those forward areas – that is what we tried to do with him from the wing-back position [against Hungary].
“But I have three amazing right backs. Kyle Walker is one of the best in the world, so is Reece James and so is Trent, they’re different profiles.
“So I’m always going to have those situations where people disagree with the selection. That noise over the last two, three years does seem to have been extremely loud, and I’ve had to ride that and get on with it. That’s what I’ve got to deal with. I’m sure the manager of Brazil has the same. I know the manager of France does, and he has won more than I have. So that’s the landscape.”
A poor start to their Nations League campaign has left England bottom of Group A3 with just one point from two games, so they’ll be feeling the pressure against an Italy side who have climbed to top spot without even being at their best this summer.