Trent Alexander-Arnold is obviously too good for England not to find a use for him

Sean Walsh
Southgate has again chosen not to call upon Alexander-Arnold
Southgate has again chosen not to call upon Alexander-Arnold / Michael Regan/GettyImages
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If there's one thing Gareth Southgate loves more than his country, it's a right-back.

He can't get enough of them. He'll call up three or four at a time, use one of them at left-back and convert a centre-back to right-back if he really wants to.

There are few more polarising-to-the-extreme right-backs than Trent Alexander-Arnold. The number of players more productive from his area of the pitch in the history of football is surely in the single digits, but his work the other way is consistently brought into question.

The 23-year-old has been omitted from England's matchday squad to face Germany on Monday, their final match before they kick off their World Cup campaign in November. He is fully fit and is not nursing a particular injury.

With the Three Lions struggling to create chances and score goals, removing a weapon as potent as Alexander-Arnold from your arsenal is a very strange call.

Debates over who should be in the national team are usually about fringe form players at mid-table clubs, which is why they're often so bloody boring. Alexander-Arnold is a key player for one of the world's best teams, and if anything leaving him out is just adding to the noise of England's pre-tournament circus.

Alexander-Arnold isn't an amazing defender, but his mistakes - much like those of Harry Maguire, for example - are often overblown because of the size of the club he plays for in an age where every detail is examined and everyone is either world class or a complete liability.

Liverpool ultimately wouldn't have been as successful as they have been over the last half-decade or so if their right-back was a zero at defending. Even if he was, there are ways to mask that in international football where systems are generally more pragmatic (and rarely more so than Southgate's). At worst, Alexander-Arnold is still among England's 15 or so best players.

Southgate seems insistent on making a back-three formation work, and in theory that should make Alexander-Arnold's job a little easier. The England boss only has a few games a year to get his squad in check and his system ticking, but overlooking one of the world's best in that position - and usually deemed the best, depending on Liverpool's form - is negligent.

A similar argument could be made for someone like Fikayo Tomori, but at least Southgate's get-out clause is that he needs his centre-backs to be aligned and it's simply too late in the integration process for the Milan defender to come in now. Alexander-Arnold has been part of his setup for over four years, however.

Reece James and Kieran Trippier have started the season well and are deserving of their own places in the England side, their spots don't need to be questioned and this isn't a criticism of them. But that doesn't mean Alexander-Arnold shouldn't even be in a matchday squad. We don't even need to get into the argument that it's for a game where there'll be lots of space to attack and maybe even Ivan Toney waiting for a series of crosses.

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