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Given the vast pool of players to choose from, it’s not uncommon for England football managers to be overloaded with too much talent in one position.
In years gone by we’ve seen the likes of Paul Scholes ushered out to left-wing because of the presence of, arguably, better central midfielders in the squad.
David Beckham’s prominence in an England shirt also forced exceptional right-wingers such as Steve McManaman over to the left flank, while even record goalscorer Wayne Rooney was tried out in a deeper role in his latter international days as new attacking talent emerged.
Right now, Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate is blessed with an array of top quality right-backs – Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold – each of whom offer various different qualities for diverse situations.
The idea that Alexander-Arnold could excel in a midfield role has been mooted for some time but his club manager Jurgen Klopp has not shown any notion of trying out his right-back in the ‘Kevin de Bruyne’ role for Liverpool instead.
Indeed, only de Bruyne (34) has more assists in the past four Premier League seasons than Trent (33), which illustrates just how creative the Liverpudlian is.
Southgate has always appeared more willing to listen to the midfield idea and duly experimented with Trent in a central role against Andorra last Sunday. England eventually ran out 4-0 winners but Trent’s midfield trial lasted only 45 minutes.
Trent Midfield Experiment Over?
We’ve seen fellow full-backs Philipp Lahm and Joshua Kimmich successfully convert to midfield roles for Germany before, but on the evidence of Trent’s first venture into a new position it could well be the last time we see him there in an England shirt.
The Liverpool defender didn’t play poorly as such, but he did not see many touches of the ball and failed to pick up the kind of positions that make a midfielder influential. He was restored to right-back at half-time and immediately appeared more comfortable.
If it didn’t work For England against Andorra, it’s doubtful Liverpool can have success with it in the Premier League, but former Reds striker Emile Heskey does not buy into the theory that Trent is a midfielder trapped inside a right-back’s body.
“I know England are blessed with right-backs at the moment but Trent is one of the best in the world so I don’t see why he should be playing in midfield,” Heskey told bookmakers.co.uk.
“When you’re being talked about as the best right-back in the world, why would you want to change position and be pushed into midfield?
“He had half a bad season last year – and when I say half a bad season, I mean that compared to the previous standard he had set for himself.
“Really, his stats were still up there with the best right-backs in the world, but he had set a standard that was far superior to others. He’s still got plenty of time to get back to that standard he set in 2019-20.
“People question his defensive abilities, but when you’re an attacking full-back you’re always going to get caught out now and again.
“I don’t see why Liverpool should be playing him in midfield, they have enough midfielders. He’s one of the best right-backs in the world, if not the best.”
Bamford’s England Debut
Speaking of unsuccessful experiments from Southgate, Patrick Bamford’s England debut failed to go as planned with the Leeds striker unable to trouble Andorra’s defence in his first taste of international football.
Bamford was replaced by Kane after just over an hour and the Tottenham man showed him how it’s done, scoring a penalty within 10 minutes. Bamford was an unused sub as England drew 1-1 with Poland on Wednesday night as Southgate reverted to his strongest side.
Former England forward Heskey, who endured plenty of criticism for his lack of goals at international level, believes it’s too early to write off Bamford and hopes to see the 28-year-old given another chance in the next squad.
He said: “I don’t think it’s a game that you can really judge anyone on because Andorra were never going to be much of a test.
“Movement wise I thought he done ok, but I think he just needs more gametime and perhaps a bigger test.
“I’m sure Gareth picked him on the basis of training and given he’s playing for Leeds I would imagine he’s used to intense training, but you need to be able to do in the games as well.”
Incidentally, Liverpool and Leeds meet at Elland Road this weekend and Heskey has fond memories of the fixture and has warned the visitors to expect a raucous home crowd.
“They were always tough, tough games,” said Heskey, who played for Liverpool between 2000 and 2004.
“At that time, Leeds were always one of our rivals vying for Champions League spots so they were always significant games.
“Going away to Leeds was never easy, the fans were nuts but fans make games and if you allow them to intimidate you then they get one up on you.
“But they will definitely be up for it this weekend.”
Most betting apps go 8/11 on an away win for Liverpool with Leeds priced up at 10/3 and the draw 3/1.
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