Alexander-Arnold in line for midfield role in England’s Euro 2024 opener

Trent Alexander-Arnold is in line to accompany Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham in midfield when England face Serbia in their opening game at Euro 2024 on Sunday.

Gareth Southgate, who has a number of fitness concerns before his side travel to Gelsenkirchen for their Group C opener, faces a big call over who should take the third spot in central midfield. England are light on experience after leaving Kalvin Phillips and Jordan Henderson out of their squad and whoever is chosen to start with Bellingham and Rice will have plenty to prove.

Alexander-Arnold, who has been handed the No 8 shirt for the tournament, has yet to establish himself in England’s best XI. But Southgate is keen to utilise the Liverpool vice-captain’s range of passing and is giving serious consideration to beginning the Euros with him in the team.

England’s other options include Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher, Manchester United’s Kobbie Mainoo and Crystal Palace’s Adam Wharton. Gallagher’s energy is likely to come in handy at some stage and Southgate is excited about the youthful potential of Mainoo and Wharton, who made his debut as a substitute in last week’s friendly win over Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Alexander-Arnold also impressed after starting in central midfield against Bosnia. He scored a fine goal after moving to right-back in the second half and has a good chance of finally making a strong impression at a major tournament.

The 25-year-old was a bit-part player at the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and missed Euro 2020 after injuring himself in a warm-up match. He has faced questions over his defensive instincts and Southgate has been reluctant to pick him over Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier at right-back.

Trent Alexander-Arnold

It was Southgate who first decided to experiment with Alexander-Arnold in midfield when England beat Andorra in a World Cup qualifier in September 2021. Jürgen Klopp eventually began to use Alexander-Arnold for Liverpool in a hybrid full-back role. The quality of Alexander-Arnold’s passing was brought out by moving him into midfield.

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England, who also meet Denmark and Slovenia in the group stage, are finalising their preparations for the tournament after flying to Germany on Monday. Their buildup has not been smooth and they were given a wake-up call after losing to Iceland last Friday.

Southgate, who has been forced to leave out the injured Harry Maguire, has worries over several key players. Luke Shaw is hoping to be back from a hamstring injury when England face Denmark in their second game. England are confident John Stones will be fit to face Serbia after he injured his right ankle against Iceland. Marc Guéhi, Bukayo Saka, Harry Kane and Trippier have been working their way back to full match fitness after recovering from injury.

The Guardian

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