England: Neville believes Southgate may ‘regret’ the ‘mishandling’ of ‘world class’ Liverpool star

Jason Soutar

Manchester United legend Gary Neville has urged England manager Gareth Southgate not to ‘mishandle’ Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold at Euro 2024.

Alexander-Arnold will reportedly start in midfield next to Declan Rice for England’s European Championship opener against Serbia on Sunday evening.

The Three Lions are the favourites to win the competition but Southgate has a big decision to make in midfield.

Kobbie Mainoo, Adam Wharton and Conor Gallagher are all in contention for a starting berth in Germany but it looks like natural right-back Alexander-Arnold will be given the nod.

Jurgen Klopp used the 25-year-old as an inverted right-back in his final 18 months at Liverpool due to his incredible passing range and composure on the ball.

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Starting in a midfield role is a different kettle of fish but Southgate clearly has faith in him to be a success at a major tournament.

Roy Keane suggested this weekend that Trent could get “ripped to shreds” against a top side at Euro 2024, saying: “I think they’ll be fine in the group, I think Trent will be fine with his positioning in those matches, but it’s against the real top teams that I think he will be found out, very much so.

“In fact, I think he would be ripped to shreds if he plays against one of the better teams in central midfield. I don’t think he’d be up to it.”

The ability Alexander-Arnold possesses means that he has to be playing for England, says former Three Lions right-back Neville, who believes we could look back with regret in years to come if the Liverpool star does not play for his country enough.

On Alexander-Arnold playing in midfield, Neville said: “I think it works for now.

“The only thing I would say is that we could look back in five, six, seven, eight years if we don’t get Trent Alexander-Arnold (playing) international football and regret how we have handled him.

“He is one player that I would describe as world-class at what he does – there’s no doubt about that. He’s unique in terms of his delivery (and) his set-piece play.

“We know Gareth loves set-pieces. He’ll have [Bukayo] Saka with his left-foot but he won’t want to put Rice on set-pieces, so I think the idea of having Trent in there isn’t just to sort of get that second midfield player that sort of beefs it up a little.

“Mainoo, Wharton and Gallagher are not ideal either and I do think he wants that second one in there.”

Neville continued: “We’re talking about Trent Alexander-Arnold here. No one ever doubts the fact that he’s special. Really special. And we’ve mishandled special players for 20, 30, 40 years.

“We’re trying to get him into the team so let’s see how it goes. It could work brilliantly today [vs Serbia].”

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