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Football Reporting


UEFA’s Trent Alexander-Arnold clause cannot be ignored by Gareth Southgate – Andy Dunn

Gareth Southgate was not a massive fan of UEFA’s decision to allow managers to have 26-man squads at the Euros.

After this night at Old Trafford, he probably is.

Because the regulation change that gives national team coaches three extra picks this summer might just have another name in Southgate’s mind.

Let’s call it the Trent Alexander-Arnold clause.

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With 26 invited to the party – a party at which quite a few will be bored stiff for a long time, by the way – Southgate can afford to take four right-backs if he wants.

Even if it just means he dodges the criticism of a swathe of Trent-loving pundits, Southgate might think it is worth it.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is a must for England's 26-man squad
Trent Alexander-Arnold is a must for England’s 26-man squad

And anyhow, he might be an attacking option if England need to go a bit more adventurous, or lose a raft of midfielders early in the tournament.

Gareth Southgate was in the Old Trafford stands but Alexander-Arnold’s hugely influential display probably told him very little he did not already know.

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Southgate did not need to watch Roberto Firmino’s bullet header to know Alexander-Arnold delivers a beautiful set-piece.

He did not need to watch Dean Henderson spill the full-back’s shot ahead of Firmino’s second, and Liverpool ’s third, to know Alexander-Arnold is a potent attacking threat.

The full-back was outstanding against Man Utd
The full-back was outstanding against Man Utd

He did not need to watch one second half moment when he turned up on the left wing to know Alexander-Arnold has remarkable energy.

Southgate has long known these things and more.

But the type of performance responsible for his shock omission was the calamitous defensive one in Madrid.

In the end, Southgate has to make a judgement call.

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Manchester United were all over the place for large parts of this contest. At times, they were worse than the reserves Ole Gunnar Solskjaer put out against Leicester City on Tuesday.

But irrespective of that, Alexander-Arnold was sensational in an attacking sense.

Can Southgate really ignore that type of brilliant, swashbuckling play from a full-back just because he is not that fond of defending?

He did last time around.

But thanks to the rule of 26, he surely cannot ignore it again.

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