‘Ridiculous to me’ – Athletic writer left baffled by Southgate’s ‘bizarre’ treatment of Trent Alexander-Arnold

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Stuart James couldn’t quite wrap his head around Gareth Southgate’s decision to play Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield for England’s 4-0 win over Andorra back in September.

The experiment from the Three Lions boss didn’t quite go as well as he’d hoped, with the 23-year-old moved back to the backline after half-time.

“It goes back to that point we were saying. If he’s that good at right-back, why move him?” the Athletic senior writer spoke on The Red Agenda podcast.

“It seems ridiculous to me. I think they did that for 45 minutes or so in that [England] game and Klopp found it bizarre.

“I think he found it bizarre not just the fact that he was played in midfield, where he was played in midfield as a No.8, none of it really made sense.

“It’s hard to get away from this feeling that Southgate doesn’t really trust him in the big games and doesn’t see a way to fit him into his system.”

The Liverpool star has been kept out of the latest international squad after sustaining a hamstring concern, with the player not expected to return to the pitch until after the resumption of domestic football.

READ MORE: Athletic journalist criticises ‘disrespectful’ Trent discussions after failed England experiment

Given that many perceive our No.66 to be the globe’s leading right-back (let alone the top-performing fullback in the English top-flight), it’s absolutely baffling as to why Southgate doesn’t trust him in his system.

Caution, as James rightly noted, does appear to be the name of the game as far as the England boss’ tactics and general set-up is concerned, which admittedly doesn’t allow one to fully utilise Trent’s strengths.

Though huge improvements in his defensive game should surely, one might be inclined to argue, put him in contention for a starting spot alongside the likes of Kyle Walker and Co.

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