Gareth Southgate insists there is no mystery behind Trent Alexander-Arnold being left out in the cold by England. He is simply not one of the best two right-backs in the country at the moment.
The Liverpool player was left on the bench for the defeat against Italy in Milan and did not even make the matchday squad for the 3-3 draw with Germany at Wembley. It seems to leave his chances of making it onto the plane for Qatar hanging very much in the balance.
Reece James started both games on the right side of defence despite backers of the 23-year-old Alexander-Arnold calling for him to be the automatic choice in the starting line-up for his passing and crossing ability alone.
Southgate, however, does not see it that way and explained his absence from among the substitutes on Monday was simply to give other players the chance to be more involved with the first team.
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Either way, Alexander-Arnold has been left in no doubt about his current situation.
“I’ve had long conversations with all of them,” Southgate said. “I’ve been very clear with them about where they stand, what they need to improve upon, what they’re doing well so they’re very clear on where they sit.”