Trent in advanced role and keen to set tempo
GARETH SOUTHGATE is ready to revive his Trent AlexanderArnold midfield experiment against Malta tonight. Liverpool full back AlexanderArnold has excelled playing in a defender-midfielder hybrid role — and manager Southgate is keen to have a closer look at the 25-year-old in a more advanced role at Wembley. The Anfield academy graduate played as a conventional central midfielder in the first game against Malta earlier this year. It remains to be seen whether Alexander-Arnold is deployed as an out-and-out midfielder tonight, but given England are likely to dominate the game Southgate will give his player licence to spend the majority of the game in the engine room. Midfielder Conor Gallagher is also hopeful of starting in midfield after some impressive performances for Chelsea in recent weeks, while Jordan Henderson could also play. Kalvin Phillips is unavailable after missing three training sessions due to a personal matter.
On the prospect of playing centrally, Alexander-Arnold said: ‘In my teenage years I was a midfielder so it’s a position I have some knowledge of. ‘How to conduct myself and perform in the middle of the pitch is something that I’ve been tasked with and sitting down and watching and trying to learn and adapt.
‘As for whether I’m a midfielder or not — my specific skillset is probably best suited to someone who plays in the middle of the pitch, someone who controls the game, controls the tempo, creates, breaks line, progresses the ball up the pitch so those kinds of skills you would say are suited to someone who plays in the middle of the pitch.
‘You probably get more out of me from being in the middle and I’m able to show off that skillset as much as possible.’ Southgate disclosed that Newcastle forward Anthony Gordon is close to an England call-up in light of ongoing interest from Scotland. ‘He’s very close,’ said Southgate. ‘I like his attitude, the way he works so hard for the team.’
The manager also revealed that he had shown his squad footage of England legend Sir Bobby Charlton, who died last month aged 86.
‘A big part of what we’ve wanted to do with our players is to talk about our identity as a team,’ said Southgate.
‘Part of that is knowing the history of our team and having an understanding of how special some of the players that have been England internationals before are. We’ve had the chance to do that this week.’