Wright hits back at Southgate excuse after England draw against Denmark: ‘I don’t believe that’

Joe Williams
Arsenal legend Ian Wright on England
Ian Wright during his role as a television pundit.

Ian Wright thinks Gareth Southgate’s claims that England don’t have a “natural replacement for Kalvin Phillips” is incorrect after their 1-1 draw against Denmark.

The Three Lions’ hopes of ending their 58-year wait for a trophy by going all the way at Euro 2024 were put into perspective as they escaped with a Group C draw against Kasper Hjulmand’s side.

Southgate’s side turned in a woeful display and were perhaps fortunate to emerge with a point, although Serbia’s last-gasp equaliser against Slovenia means they remain in charge of the group.

Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has been deployed as a midfielder alongside Declan Rice in their opening two Euro 2024 fixtures but was taken off after 54 minutes against Denmark on Thursday night.

Experimenting with Alexander-Arnold as a midfielder clearly hasn’t worked for Southgate so far and the England boss substituted the Liverpool star on 54 minutes for Conor Gallagher, who was no better than the man he replaced.

“We know it’s an experiment and we know that we don’t have a natural replacement for Kalvin Phillips,” Southgate said after the match.

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“We’re trying some different things and at the moment we’re not flowing as we’d like, that’s for sure.”

But former Arsenal striker Wright disagreed with Southgate’s comments with both Adam Wharton and Kobbie Mainoo at the England boss’ disposal.

When asked who he would start in midfield ahead of Alexander-Arnold, Wright told ITV: “Either Kobbie or Wharton, I’d probably put Wharton in there simply because he’s the closest I’ve seen to Fabian Ruiz.

“When I’ve seen him in the last few games for Palace at the end of the season, his calmness, he’s calm, he’s got a pass.

“He’s a very intelligent player and I think he’s somebody that wouldn’t panic in this situation. He’s been picked in the squad.

“Listening to Gareth, I think he mentioned about Kalvin Phillips and he’s the only one in the country who can play that role, I don’t believe that.

“I believe Adam Wharton can play it. I think Kobbie Mainoo can play it as well. You’ve picked them.

“Now we’re in a situation where it’s not desperation because we’ve got four points but we’re in a place where we need something different, we need to change something.

“We’ve got Cole Palmer, Anthony Gordon, we need to change something.”

Wright added: “Can I just say as well with Trent, I feel so sorry for him because he’s come in as a so-called quarterback with no one moving, what’s he supposed to do?

“You see how hard it is to go in and do what he’s doing, he’s come in there with no plan.”