Football

Lawrenson Thinks England's First Choice Right-Back Is Not Up For Debate

Lawrenson Thinks England's First Choice Right-Back Is Not Up For Debate

Liverpool legend Mark Lawrenson might be known to be a bit biased in some of his analysis, but he might be making a valid point here in a column written for the BBC.

The 39-time capped Republic of Ireland international spoke about the ongoing England right-back debacle and who should get the starting nod.

England have two upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Albania and San Marino this month. Their status on top of Group I is not yet sealed.

Given his performance in the Champions League against Atlético Madrid, Lawro believes Trent Alexander-Arnold should be Gareth Southgate's priority going forward.

"If anyone needs convincing that Trent Alexander-Arnold should be England's first-choice right-back, his performance against Atletico Madrid is a good place to start," he said.

"I am not one of those who needs reminding of how good Trent is, but he still produces moments like his cross for Liverpool's first goal in their win on Wednesday that just make you go 'wow'."

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The 23-year-old was in fine form on Wednesday night, bagging two assists with the last one up for debate whether it was an intended through ball or a shot. The first can be seen above.

In the BT Sports studio, pundit and former Red Peter Crouch said Trent's assist history would lead to giving the benefit of the doubt that it was intentional.

Trent Or James?

While Kyle Walker was predominantly used as England's first choice right-sided defender during Euro 2020, two names dominate the landscape in recent weeks.

Aside from the performances of Alexander-Arnold, Reece James has played himself into contention, most recently scoring two goals against Newcastle at the weekend.

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"It's a close call between him and Chelsea's Reece James," Lawrenson said. "As good as James is going forward, he just does not have the same absolutely top-class delivery that Trent does. That's what counts for me."

James has made eleven appearances for Chelsea this season in all competitions, with three of those coming off the bench. Thomas Tuchel has rotated him so far.

César Azpilicueta has been the preferred option for most games, with James being rested during the week in Chelsea's Champions League clash with Malmo.

No Midfield Experiment Needed

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Gareth Southgate most recently deployed Alexander-Arnold as a central midfielder against Andorra, with many believing he has the qualities to play higher up.

While he plays in a an advanced role at club level on the right-hand-side of the pitch, Lawrenson doesn't believe it's the right move for Southgate to make again.

"People who say he could play in central midfield for England are missing the point. It's a completely different role to the one he is so effective at for his club when he links up with Mohamed Salah down the right."

"If he is in midfield instead, then he is playing on the half-turn a lot of the time when he collects the ball and it's harder to have the same idea of what's happening in front of him."

"I don't think that using him as a midfielder is an experiment worth repeating by Gareth Southgate," Lawrenson added.

"Gareth Southgate sometimes plays with wing-backs, and I can only see Alexander-Arnold flourishing there, coming at teams from deep."

See Also: Connolly Misses Out As Ireland Squad For Portugal And Luxembourg Named

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Jonathan Byrne

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