Danny Murphy believes that Trent Alexander-Arnold ‘faces a challenge’ to be selected as part of Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the upcoming Qatar World Cup.
The tournament will rather controversially take place across the months of November and December and all top league across Europe will see their traditional fixture schedule disrupted.
The Liverpool full back, like many of his teammates, have had a difficult start to to the season and the Reds were thrashed 4-1 by Napoli in the Champions League earlier this week.
Murphy is hoping that our No. 66 is included in the Three Lions squad but admitted that the scouser does need to make ‘improvements’.
“Trent Alexander-Arnold dropped below his usual high standards against Manchester United and Napoli and faces a challenge to be picked for the World Cup,” the ex-Red wrote in his column for the Daily Mail.
“There are defensive lessons he has to learn, and coaches, staff and team-mates at Liverpool should be helping him.
“I hope Gareth Southgate names him in the next squad on Thursday because in tournament football you need people like Trent who can open up a defence. But there are improvements he needs to make.
“The best players make good decisions at the right time but if Jordan Henderson is injured, Trent can look isolated when he goes forward without having the same defensive insurance around him.
“He’s 24 next month and should be experienced enough to adapt his game. Against Napoli, he was not helped by others around him, such as Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho, also struggling with form.
“He has to look at his positional play and smell danger a bit quicker. He has been given free rein for a long time but he should protect himself better, even if it means sacrificing some forward runs. Liverpool have looked complacent this season but I don’t mean players failing to give 100 per cent. It’s more a lack of sharpness or failing to do the basics when you’ve not had any competition for your position.
“I sometimes slid into the comfort zone and needed a jolt. I’m not saying Trent is the same but the coaches at Liverpool could spend more time with him analysing the defensive parts of his game that need work. He is a good listener so his issues are easily resolved. Small details can make a big difference.
“Right-back is one of the hardest positions to call with England because of competition from Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and Reece James. Trent has an X-factor his rivals don’t possess but he has to look at their qualities so he can become more rounded.
“Liverpool have lost just twice this season and bounced back from the first defeat by beating Bournemouth 9-0. Ajax will be a harder test on Tuesday but they need the same attitude. Jurgen Klopp has talked about reinventing the team, which usually means a tactical switch or changing personnel. Maybe he’ll think about switching Joe Gomez to right-back for a couple of games as he’s a natural one-on-one defender.”
The 23-year-old has started all of Liverpool’s seven games so far this season but threw in a lacklustre performance in Naples on Wednesday.
Murphy is right to point out that Trent wasn’t helped out by his teammates, though.
Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk also had off nights against the Serie A outfit while Fabinho wasn’t at his best in offering protection for the defence.
Alexander-Arnold’s hunger to track back and fight for the ball when he lost it just simply wasn’t there and it was rather strange to see considering the campaign only began last month.
Some have questioned whether the England international may be fatigued and believe he may benefit from a short spell out of the side, but the problem that Jurgen Klopp faces is that he doesn’t have a senior right back to call upon to deputise for Alexander-Arnold.
Gomez can operate at full back but that is far from ideal considering the fact he is a central defender, whilst James Milner can also perform adequately at right back if needed.
On his day, the Academy graduate is the best right back in the world but he is often criticised for his defensive showings and his performances so far this season have done little to dispute those claims.
It will be interesting to see whether Klopp names the scouser in the starting XI when Ajax visit Anfield on Tuesday night.