TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD will struggle to make the plane to the World Cup, according to ex-England star Danny Mills.
“I’ve always been concerned about his defensive ability and that has really come to the fore.
“When on form, going forward he’s exceptional. But that papers over the cracks a bit, especially at Liverpool.
“You accept his defensive frailty because of what he gives you going forward. But this isn’t about getting out of the group in Qatar.
“This is about the last 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals, big games against very good teams.
“We’ve seen that Trent’s defensive capabilities are not always there.”
Alexander-Arnold’s problem is the number of rivals for a place on the right side of defence, whether Southgate goes for a back three or a four.
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“James can play wing-back, so can Walker if he needs to.
“Trippier played wing-back at the World Cup four years ago in Russia.
“Everyone goes on about Trent’s delivery in the final third but look at Trippier’s and his set-pieces.
“It’s a toss of the coin between Trent and Trippier for second wing-back.
“And Trippier can play in other positions that Trent can’t.
“If it was today, I would take Walker, Trippier and James. I think that gives you ample cover and plenty of options.”
But Southgate does not have the same embarrassment of riches in the rest of his defence.
Ben Chilwell is the only other recognised left-back in the party but is only just back from injury and has been in and out of Chelsea’s team.
Mills, who starred in all five games when England reached the quarter-finals before losing to Brazil in 2002, said: “Shaw and Maguire aren’t playing for United but what are the options?
“Gareth says he will pick players on form but you also need players you know and trust and you know can work in the environment. Those players are still in there because of that.
“There are just two months to go. That’s why he has no choice but to revert to those he knows.
“A big question will be how fit is Harry Maguire?
“Gareth might well give him a game and a half next week to keep his levels up.
“Come Qatar he needs a fit Harry Maguire because his options are limited.”
Mills is also concerned that midfielder Kalvin Phillips — another Euro 2020 stalwart — has “barely had a kick” since joining Manchester City.
But, overall, Mills fears England will have trouble matching the performances in the last two major tournaments if their first 11 are not fit and firing in November.
The talkSPORT and Sky Sports pundit added: “England’s best 11 players, all in good form, have a great chance to go deep in the tournament, possibly win it.
“If you have two or three out of that, you are weaker. That is the problem.
“If Harry Kane is out, where do you go from there?
“How many of the first 11 are in good form and not injured right now? Not many.
“Gareth took us within a penalty of winning the Euros. He’s done an incredible job.
“But are we the second best team in Europe? Probably not. We need to be realistic.”