Pundit and former Ballon d’Or winner Michael Owen believes Liverpool star Trent Alexander-Arnold may not be England’s starting right-back for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.The Three Lions have an abundance of quality options at right-back. Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Reece James, and Alexander-Arnold are all vying for the same spot in the starting XI.
Despite the Liverpool right-back being in brilliant form last season, England head coach Gareth Southgate has opted to start more matches with Chelsea’s James. He has also repeatedly backed Walker, who made it into his starting XI at the 2018 World Cup and at UEFA EURO 2020.
With Alexander-Arnold suffering a dip in form this season, Owen feels the Reds right-back will find it tough to get a starting berth for England in Qatar this winter.
“Gareth Southgate didn’t pick Trent Alexander-Arnold when he was absolutely flying and Liverpool and Trent were top-notch.” Owen said in BT Sport Studio. “As things stand, if he wasn’t going to pick him then, he’s not going to be his first-choice right-back at the moment.”
Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold has plenty of replacements in the England national team
Alexander-Arnold has come under intense scrutiny since last season’s UEFA Champions League. His defensive positioning allowed Real Madrid winger Vinicius Jr. to enter the box unmarked and tap home a simple finish for the only goal of the contest.
The Liverpool right-back has been caught napping in defense on several occasions this season as well. This has raised pertinent questions over his ability to start for England. He remains one of the best full-backs in the world while marauding forward but his defensive struggles have dominated headlines.
Reece James, who has also been brilliant going forward, offers more protection and solidity in the defensive third. Those attributes could see him edge Alexander-Arnold for a spot in England’s starting XI.
There is also the experienced Kyle Walker, who remains a quality player and capable of filling multiple positions in defense. The Manchester City defender has even been deployed as a right-sided centre-back by Southgate due to his defensive prowess. Walker also offers rapid pace while going forward.
Kieran Trippier is another option for England. But with Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell both struggling with injuries in recent times, the Newcastle United defender could be used as a left-back. The tactic yielded good results for Southgate at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.