Alexander-Arnold in ‘pole position’ to start for England as Palmer handed boost amid Saka doubts

Will Ford
Alexander-Arnold England
Alexander-Arnold looks set to start for England vs Serbia.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is in ‘pole position’ to start Euro 2024 as Declan Rice’s midfield partner as Cole Palmer has been handed a boost in his bid to start against Serbia.

Alexander-Arnold started in midfield alongside Conor Gallagher in the 3-0 win over Bosnia last week, and a report suggests he’s beaten off competition from the Chelsea man, Kobbie Mainoo and Adam Wharton to play in the Three Lions double pivot alongside Rice.

‘Given No.8 shirt for a reason’

The Liverpool star scored in that game having moved to right-back and looked more comfortable in his natural position, but with Kyle Walker sure to start in that role, and Gareth Southgate keen on having Alexander-Arnold’s passing range as a weapon, the 25-year-old is in ‘pole position’ to play in midfield, according to the Telegraph.

England have nearly a week of training ahead of their Group C opener against Serbia on Sunday night, during which one of the other options available to Southgate may stake their claim, while injuries could yet play a role, but Alexander-Arnold is the man in possession as things stand.

A source said: “A lot can change, obviously, but Trent was given the No 8 shirt for a reason.”

There are fitness doubts over John Stones, Phil Foden, Jude Bellingham and – most significantly as the only natural left-back in the squad – Luke Shaw, who looks set to return to full training this week, but is expected to miss the opening game.

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Bukayo Saka doubts

The report claims the back four is therefore set to be Walker, Stones, Marc Guehi and Kieran Trippier, while ideally Bukayo Saka, Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden will play behind Harry Kane.

But doubts over Saka’s fitness may have opened the door for Palmer, who scored his first England goal against Bosnia from the penalty spot.

Saka played the last 25 minutes against Iceland but is ‘believed not to have fully shaken off’ a groin issue he picked up in the last week of the Premier League season, practicing his shooting in training with Arsenal.