Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has been ruled out from Euro 2021 due to a hamstring injury suffered in the 1-0 friendly win over Austria.
The 22-year-old wouldn’t have expected such an anti-climactic end to his Euro Cup campaign with the Three Lions. Leading up to Gareth Southgate’s announcement of the England squad on June 1st, a lot was talked about Alexander-Arnold’s chances of making the squad.
He was dropped by Southgate for the friendlies in March, and ever since, his participation in Euros was in doubt. As expected, his exclusion raised many eyebrows, but he did manage to find his place in the 26-player squad.
His defensive abilities have always been susceptible, but he offers something unique on the attacking front. So much so that Southgate picked four right-backs in his squad to accommodate individual abilities provided by these individuals.
As things stand, the England manager is facing the dilemma of selecting one of the five outfield players on the stand-by list – Ben Godfrey, Jesse Lingard, James Ward-Prowse, Ollie Watkins and Ben White. Interestingly the list contains two midfielders, two centre-backs and a striker, but not a single full-back.
As per the recent reports, Lingard and Ward-Prowse are current favourites to pick the remaining spot. However, Southgate will only make the final decision following the international friendly against Romania on Sunday.
All five players featured in the friendly against Austria, with Lingard being the only one to get a start. This could be the most significant indicator that the 28-year-old is likely to get Alexander-Arnold’s spot in Southgate.
Jesse Lingard or James Ward-Prowse?
Lingard’s explosive form for West Ham in the second half of the last season also bodes well for his chances. He scored nine goals and provided four assists in 16 appearances for the Hammers with a goal-involvement rate of 0.82.
Ward-Prowse is also coming on the back of a successful season with the Saints. However, his impact hasn’t been that resounding. He scored eight goals and seven assists in 38 games for the Saints, with a goal-involvement of 0.39/game. It is also worth noting that only one out of eight goals came from open-play. Undoubtedly, Lingard has produced at a much more prolific rate in front of the goal.
However, the Saints captain has his own abilities to offer to the Three Lions. He created 1.58 chances per 90 last season as compared to 1.14 by Lingard. The former attempted 1.45 accurate crosses per 90 last season, while Lingard could manage only 0.38. Ward-Prowse also produced better defensive numbers than Lingard.
Lingard attempted only 0.06 blocks, 0.25 interceptions and 0.38 tackles (per 90) compared to 0.11 blocks, 1.11 interceptions and 1.29 tackles made by Ward-Prowse. The Southampton midfield general is definitely a better versatile player but lacks the explosiveness of Lingard.
Ultimately, it will come down to the kind of player Southgate wants to take with him. Furthermore, Jordan Henderson’s ongoing injury concerns could also play a role in his decision.
Whatever happens, both Lingard and Ward-Prowse would be itching to make an impression against Romania.
* All the stats are per 90 minutes.