Trent Alexander-Arnold admits he found it ‘difficult to get on the ball’ in makeshift midfield role for England against Andorra and says he revelled in finding ‘more space’ when moved to right-back in the second half
- Trent Alexander-Arnold started in midfield for England’s 4-0 win over Andorra
- The Liverpool right-back was then moved back to defence for the second-half
- The 22-year-old admits he found it more difficult to find space in his midfield role
Trent Alexander-Arnold admits he found it ‘difficult to get on the ball’ during his midfield appearance for England in their 4-0 victory over Andorra on Sunday.
The Liverpool right-back was deployed in a more advanced central role by Gareth Southgate in the first-half, though was moved back to defence after half-time with Chelsea’s Reece James having a run around in the middle of the park.
Southgate’s men improved after the break, scoring three second-half goals to round off a comfortable victory and Alexander-Arnold admitted that the midfield run-around very challenging for him at Wembley.
Trent Alexander-Arnold admits he found it ‘difficult’ playing in midfield for England on Sunday
The Liverpool right-back was deployed in midfield against Andorra but struggled to find space
‘It’s a new role for me, a bit different,’ he told talkSPORT. ‘I think there’s been a lot of questions being asked whether I can or cannot play in there and a lot of opinions being voiced over the last few weeks.
‘It was an experiment the manager wanted to try out, but it was difficult to get on the ball for me, I found it a lot more difficult to get on the ball in those spaces.
‘But whether I’m starting in there or starting right back I think naturally I just find myself drifting into midfield, getting the ball and affecting the game.’
The 22-year-old played as a midfielder for Liverpool during his youth days in the academy
Alexander-Arnold came through the Liverpool youth ranks as a midfielder with club legend Steven Gerrard, who worked as a coach in the Reds academy before joining Rangers, claiming he is predominantly ‘a No 6, a holding midfielder’ in his 2015 autobiography.
The 22-year-old has forged a top professional career as a right-back, being a key player for a Liverpool side who have won the Premier League and Champions League in recent years.
While the right-back does take up central areas in his right-back role at club level, Alexander-Arnold admitted he found it difficult starting out in the middle, before being tasked with finding more space.
The England international was moved into right-back for the second-half and improved
He continued: ‘The only difference was I was starting in there (in midfield) and it was a bit more difficult to really find the space that I wanted to.
‘The second half we changed the system a little bit and I was able to find a lot more space and get time on the ball and get in positions that were fairly similar to playing in midfield anyway.’
Alexander-Arnold faces a great deal of competition at right-back at international level, with Chelsea’s James, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker also in Southgate’s squad.
The Liverpool man has also never really been fancied by Southgate since making his international debut before the 2018 World Cup.
Gareth Southgate has not always backed the player and dropped him from the squad this year
Out of his 10 England starts before the Andorra game, five have them were in friendlies and two of them came in dead-rubber matches such as the Nations League third-placed play-off and the final match of the World Cup group stages when the entire team was rotated.
Southgate defended decision to place Alexander-Arnold in central midfield against the Andorrans, claiming it was the right match to try something new and that the Three Lions squad have lost nothing by trying the Liverpool man in that role.
‘We wanted to see something and we felt this was a good game to look at it,’ Southgate said after the Andorra game. ‘Clearly in the second half he has been in more of those positions where he felt more comfortable.
Alexander-Arnold had more joy in wider areas and England scored three after half-time
‘Even though a lot of the time it was the same positions he was in in the first half but just he’s coming onto things, he looked happier in that position.
‘That was clear so I think his play with the ball exhibited that happiness. We know he has outstanding quality with the ball and of course he finds himself in those positions with Liverpool.
‘But what was clear in the first half was there wasn’t a lot of space and to find yourself in those positions coming onto those positions is different to starting in those positions so I don’t feel we lost anything by having a look at it.’