England name squad for Euro 2020: Did Gareth Southgate get tough calls right?

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England manager Gareth Southgate has named the 26 players he hopes will end the nation’s wait for a major trophy that stretches back to the 1966 World Cup.

Southgate faced several big calls on form, fitness and squad balance for the European Championship as he finalises his plans for the opening game against Croatia at Wembley on 13 June.

So did he get those major decisions right?

Alexander-Arnold gets the call

The selection – or otherwise – of Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold was the most vexed question in the build up to Tuesday’s squad announcement.

It was a debate started when Southgate left the 22-year-old out of the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland in March, fuelled by the fact England are well blessed in the position where Alexander-Arnold excelled for Liverpool while they won the Champions League and Premier League.

In the end, Southgate included Alexander-Arnold as one of four right-backs in the squad, alongside Chelsea’s Champions League winner Reece James, Premier League title winner Kyle Walker from Manchester City and Kieran Trippier, a La Liga winner with Atletico Madrid.

It seems England’s squad is seriously over-loaded in one position and not a position that necessarily defines the destiny of big games.

Is Southgate’s reasoning that Alexander-Arnold is simply too good a footballer to leave behind, a player with the capacity to be a game-changer in an attacking context that does not apply to the others battling for the right-back slot?

His defensive qualities come under regular scrutiny but his deliveries from set-pieces, both in creating chances and scoring from dead-ball situations, are world class. He has a gift that has altered the course of big games.

This means Alexander-Arnold, even if he is not first choice, can be used further forward to fashion openings.

Four right-backs may seem too much (and probably is) but Alexander-Arnold’s all-purpose attacking ability makes his selection the right move by Southgate, who pointed out that James, Walker and Trippier have also proved their versatility in the past.

Agencies

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