England coach Gareth Southgate said he plans to give Trent Alexander-Arnold more opportunities in midfield after the Liverpool right back starred in the role during Friday’s 4-0 victory over Malta in their Euro 2024 qualifier.
Alexander-Arnold thrived in a hybrid midfield role for Liverpool in the final months of the 2022-23 season and was at his creative best against Malta in his first international start for a year, scoring a long-range goal and playing a part in two others.
The 24-year-old has struggled to hold down a starting place under Southgate and earned only his 19th cap since his debut in 2018, with the England coach preferring Reece James, Kyle Walker or Kieran Trippier at full back.
It was his first foray in an advanced role for England since he was unsuccessfully used as a playmaker against Andorra in 2021. But after the superb display on Friday, Southgate said he wants to tap into Alexander-Arnold’s creativity.
“I’ve got no questions in my head he can do it,” Southgate said. “It’s just learning some nuances of the role, without the ball especially, but he’s very keen.
“We talked about it four weeks ago on the phone and he’s excited about it. He showed exactly what we think he could be capable of and he gives us something different to our other midfielders.
“Inevitably, a lot of what happens is going to be dependent on his club. The fact he’s been playing partly in there with the ball, albeit a bit deeper, has helped his transition.”
Alexander-Arnold looked the part, wearing the number 10 shirt, and said he hoped it would help him nail down a regular spot in Southgate’s team.
“I haven’t played it too much, but it feels comfortable,” he said. “It feels natural. It’s somewhere I can see myself playing. I want to make sure I am regularly on the team sheet, and that was a good foundation to build on.
“The role I’ve been playing with club football, it’s opened a new avenue for me. It’s still early doors, it’s only one match, but it’s important that when I get the opportunity, I take it.”