Why James Ward-Prowse should have taken Trent Alexander-Arnold’s England Euro 2020 spot

James Ward-Prowse put his point across to England manager Gareth Southgate during the final warm-up game for Euro 2020 as England beat Romania 1-0 at the Riverside Stadium.

The Southampton man started in central midfield in a heavily changed England line-up as they prepare for their Euro 2020 opener against Croatia next Sunday and put in a great performance alongside Kalvin Phillips and then Jordan Henderson until he was replaced on 75 minutes.

It certainly did him no harm in his chances of replacing Trent Alexander-Arnold in the final England squad for the tournament, after the England man picked up a thigh injury that ruled him out of contention after initially being picked.

With Mason Greenwood ruled out through injury too and only three goalkeepers allowed to be named it means Southgate has five options to replace Trent.

But with Ollie Watkins as a striker, it seems unlikely that he would be involved in any scenario that Southgate could think up. Then you have Ben Godfrey, who can play as both a centre-back or right-back as he did against Romania. But with three right-back options already in the squad and four natural centre-backs plus Walker, Shaw and James able to cover in a back three he doesn’t seem too needed there.

Ben White is another option, with the same capabilities as Godfrey but also an ability to play in defensive midfield too which could appeal to the manager with Jordan Henderson’s fitness worries. But it would seem a bit silly from Southgate to opt for White because of his ability to play in midfield when you have midfielders readily available.

That leaves Ward-Prowse and Lingard to battle out for the spot and the Saints skipper should be the man to get the nod for me.

While Lingard has had an excellent half-season with West Ham United, he is far more offensive minded and occupies a more advanced position in the team. Those attacking midfield positions are unaffected by Trent’s withdrawal with the likes of Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho and Mason Mount all still in the conversation for a place in the team.

That means Ward-Prowse is the most logical choice in terms of squad balance, but he’s also the best option.

Trent’s biggest weapon is his crossing and set-piece delivery, something that Ward-Prowse also possesses. Add to that the fact he is a natural central midfielder, has played in the England setup under Southgate for a lot of this season and offers something different to the other midfielders in the team.

He has a wicked set-piece delivery and if England start chasing a game that becomes an option, much like it would’ve done had Trent been available on the bench. He’s a familiar face with great energy and talent and fits the balance perfectly.

Southgate’s choice is relatively easy to make, but it turns out he doesn’t agree. The England manager confirmed on Monday morning that it would in fact be Ben White would replace Alexander-Arnold in the squad, after he impressed in defensive midfield and centre-back during the two friendlies and training.

My first thoughts on that are that while that may be true, the fact that Harry Maguire is a huge doubt for the opening games has surely played a part in his decision making process here. Without Maguire they’re short of options that can play in a back-four and White’s versatility helps in that regard, as well as his familiarity with a three-at-the-back system with Brighton.

Ward-Prowse should count himself mightily unlucky not to be involved, but he would’ve been mine and many others’ pick too and deserves to be in the squad.


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