Gary Lineker has hit out at Gareth Southgate’s decision to leave Trent Alexander-Arnold on the bench during England’s 1-0 defeat against Italy in the Nations League on Friday night.
The Three Lions suffered the ignominy of relegation as a result of another disappointing result, meaning they will begin the next Nations League campaign in Tier B. A fine 68th minute strike from Giacomo Raspadori lit up a dire game at the San Siro as England’s winless run stretched to five matches.
Another chastening defeat in the Nations League saw Southgate booed by the travelling fans at the end of the match – just months after he was jeered by disgruntled fans at Wembley following England’s humiliating 4-0 defeat against Hungary back in June.
And Lineker has become the latest person to scrutinise Southgate; this time for his decision to leave Alexander-Arnold on the bench against the European champions.
Reece James got the nod to start the match at right wing-back ahead of the Liverpool ace, whose impressive club form has not been enough to help him nail down a starring role for his country.
Lineker also hit out at the decision to exclude Leicester playmaker James Maddison in the wake of another toothless display from England, who have failed to score in open play for over 450 minutes. He tweeted: “A gentle reminder that England’s most creative midfielder, @Madders10 was not in the squad of 28. And England’s most creative footballer, @TrentAA sat on the bench getting splinters in his a***…”
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Southgate’s decision to bench Alexander-Arnold comes just over a week after the Reds right-back was warned by Rio Ferdinand that his role at Liverpool, where he is given the license to roam and is one of the club’s chief creators, could be detrimental to his chances of usurping James in the England pecking order.
Ferdinand told BT Sport earlier this month: “Is Jurgen Klopp saying to him ‘you’re in this team to create chances?’ Is he treating him like he’s a No 10 in this team from right-back? The game in the right-back position has changed so much. The likes of [Joao] Cancelo and Reece James are dictating games and getting more touches than anyone in the game.
“Is he telling him ‘the guys behind you, they’re responsible for defensive situations, and you go out there and play off the cuff’ without the noose around your neck to be responsible defensively? I think it will be difficult for Trent to start for England, with the way Gareth has set his team up in recent months and time gone by.
“Jurgen Klopp is not looking at his weakest attributes. He is saying ‘what are his best attributes and how can I get him out there producing the best parts of his game and amplify the positives?'”