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Gerrard calls ousted England defender Alexander-Arnold the ‘best right-back in the country’

Steven Gerrard said he was surprised by England coach Gareth Southgate’s decision to drop Trent Alexander-Arnold from the squad for their World Cup qualifiers and described the Liverpool defender as the “best English right-back in the country.”

Alexander-Arnold was left out of Southgate’s 26-man squad last week for this month’s 2022 World Cup qualifying matches against San Marino, Albania and Poland.

The 22-year-old has been a regular in the England squad since breaking into the side ahead of the 2018 World Cup but Southgate said his form had cost him his spot.

– World Cup qualifiers on ESPN+: Stream LIVE games, replays
– FC 100: Alexander-Arnold ranked best in the world in 2020

Southgate has an abundance of options at right-back and named Manchester City’s Kyle Walker, Atletico Madrid’s Kieran Trippier and Chelsea’s Reece James for the upcoming games.

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Rangers manager Gerrard, who spent 17 seasons at Liverpool as a player, said the defender needed support to get him back on track.

“I think Trent is the best English right-back in the country,” former England midfielder Gerrard told British media.

“One thing I’ve learnt from being a player is you can’t always be 10 out of 10. When you do come off, you need that support, love and attention from your manager more than anyone else.

“So I was surprised by the decision but that’s my opinion and my opinion is not important in this. Gareth Southgate makes the decisions there. I don’t necessarily agree with that decision, but I’m not the England manager.”

On the other side of England’s defence, Ben Chilwell has said he hopes his switch to a wing-back role at Chelsea could boost his chances of being included the starting line-up for this month’s qualifiers.

Chilwell has thrived under new Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, who has deployed a 3-5-2 formation with Chilwell playing as a left wing-back instead of his usual position on the left side of a back four.

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“If you look at the formation England are playing, the formation we’re playing here at the moment [at Chelsea] gives us the best possible chance to get used to playing in the positions that England want us to play in,” Chilwell, who was named as part of Southgate’s 26-man squad, told British media.

“Hopefully that gives us a good chance going into the summer — that we can be used.”

England host San Marino on Thursday before playing away against Albania on Sunday and at home against Poland on March 31 in the qualifiers.

The former Leicester City defender said he was also looking forward to competing against Manchester United’s Luke Shaw for a spot in the team for the Euros in June.

“Going into the Euros, if me and Luke are battling it out and trying to prove who’s having the best club form going into the tournament, that’s only a positive,” he said.

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