John Barnes claims injury doubt Trent Alexander-Arnold would not be a big loss for England at the Euros as Gareth Southgate is blessed with right back options, before arguing that he should call up James Ward-Prowse in his place.
The Liverpool right back, who was a late inclusion in Southgate’s 26-man squad for the Euros, was forced off late on in the 1-0 friendly victory over Austria due to a thigh injury – with the Three Lions boss now sweating over his fitness ahead of the opener against Croatia on June 13 at Wembley.
But Southgate has three other options at right back – including Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and Reece James – and Barnes believes he won’t be missed, before claiming there are much worse positions for an England player to have sustained an injury.
Trent Alexander-Arnold was forced off with a thigh injury late on for England against Austria
Gareth Southgate has another injury doubt to contend with now ahead of the Euros
Barnes told BonusCodeBets.co.uk: ‘I’ve never known such a fervour about one position on a football pitch before Trent got injured – and you could say it is probably lucky we already had three others in the squad.
‘He is one of our best right-backs, but we have so many options in that position, so it’s actually not a great loss to England. It’s obviously extremely sad for Trent and I feel for him – but we have so much cover there, so it should not be detrimental to England’s chances.
‘If Harry Kane limped off against Austria, I’d be sitting here being far more concerned for England. It’s also lucky for Liverpool that this bad-looking injury has happened in the off season.’
Barnes then went onto claim that if Alexander-Arnold does miss out, it gives Southgate the perfect opportunity to add balance to his squad by bringing in Southampton midfielder Ward-Prowse.
John Barnes insists Alexander-Arnold will ‘not be a great loss’ for the Three Lions at the Euros
‘There is absolutely no way Southgate should pick another right back as a replacement for Trent,’ the former Liverpool and Watford winger added. ‘It is not going to be a like for like. We have ample cover there, and now is actually a great opportunity to bring in someone in another position where we look quite light, for example in central midfield.
‘Whoever comes in is not going to start and may get limited game time – otherwise they would have been in the initial squad. That player will not single handedly win England the Euros, so it is important who they pick is not there to just make up the numbers and actually could contribute something meaningful if called upon, maybe only for a few minutes.
‘It is all about balance – Jesse Lingard has had a better season than James Ward-Prowse, but for me we do not need any more attacking players, we have a wealth of those already in the squad.
‘With the central midfield area, Henderson and Kalvin Phillips have had recent injuries, Declan Rice is just back from one – so if one of them breaks down again, we look really short in that area.
‘So Ward-Prowse, who is reliable and great at set pieces as Trent is, would make sense to pick. He also played every minute for Southampton so is clearly fit and trusted by his club and would slot into the squad perfectly.
Barnes believes that Southgate should call up midfielder James Ward-Prowse to his squad
‘The biggest mistake England have made over the years is picking individuals who have played well in the same position, which really does not help the team.
‘I felt the initial squad announcement had shades of that this time with the right backs and the attacking wide players – so this injury selection, while unfortunate, could help England’s lack of balance in central midfield and potentially stop a historic issue with our national side for decades.’
As well as Alexander-Arnold, Southgate faces an anxious wait regarding the fitness of Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire ahead of the Euro opener in 10 days time.
Henderson hasn’t featured since February after sustaining a groin injury for Liverpool against Everton, while Man United centre back Maguire picked up an ankle problem near the end of the season at Aston Villa.