Teddy Sheringham says Gareth Southgate will be making a huge mistake if he starts Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield for England's Euro 2024 opener.

Southgate is considering starting Liverpool defender Alexander-Arnold in midfield, alongside Declan Rice, for Sunday's Group C game against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen. Alexander-Arnold, 25, started England's 3-0 win over Bosnia & Herzegovina in midfield, before switching to his more familiar right-back role in the final minutes.

He then had a cameo role in England's 1-0 defeat to Iceland and did enough in both games to convince Southgate and his staff that he can operate in midfield from the start on Sunday. But former England striker Sheringham reckons that would be a massive gamble from Southgate and cautioned him against playing Alexander-Arnold out of position.

“I think Southgate is in danger of shoehorning players into the wrong positions,” Sheringham told TG Casino. “I know Trent Alexander-Arnold can pick out a pass, but it’s not the be all and end all of playing in midfield. I wouldn’t play him there, personally.

“I think you’ve already got a right-back playing on the left, a new centre-half, so to have a right-back playing in midfield says that the midfielders aren’t good enough. I’d be very surprised if he did start the game against Serbia there – I’d prefer him at right-back and then finding himself in midfield like he does so well at Liverpool.

“There’s a big difference between starting there and finding your way there. Ben Chilwell will be very disappointed that he hasn’t made the 26-player squad – he is a natural left-back that does things that left-backs do.”

Former Manchester United and Tottenham striker Sheringham, 58, who won 51 caps, admitted he is concerned at England's defence – particularly the absence of Harry Maguire. United centre-back Maguire, a mainstay of England's defence under Southgate, did not make the squad for Euro 2024 after failing to recover in time from a calf injury.

With John Stones also a doubt after missing England training through illness, Southgate could be forced to field an entirely new centre-back pairing against Serbia. “Losing to Iceland ahead of the opening game with Serbia is a big concern,” said Sheringham, reflecting on England's final warm-up game defeat at Wembley.

“Losing Maguire to injury too, who’s been a stalwart for England over the years, is a big issue having played alongside Stones in the middle of defence. I would be very concerned if I were England – you don’t just put a random four players in defence to play together, you need to work on them.

“I’m sure that’s what Gareth Southgate will have done over the last period building up to the first game. It’s a tough call now, you can’t just think that because we’ve got a prominent front six that you can leave it all up to them, you’ve got to work on the defence as well.”

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2024-06-13T10:47:11Z dg43tfdfdgfd