Liverpool to benefit as England take Trent Alexander-Arnold’s new role to greater heights

Trent Alexander-Arnold was in excellent shape once again for his country.

The new role Trent Alexander-Arnold has taken on for Liverpool has been adopted by England manager Gareth Southgate and applied to the international stage. The former full-back turned in yet another impressive performance in England’s 7-0 rout of North Macedonia on Monday night.

The Liverpool defender has had a challenging career playing for his country thus far, having to contend with players like Kyle Walker, Reece James, and Kieran Trippier for a position at right-back. Although he didn’t play a significant role at either the most recent World Cup or European Championship, recent performances and team selections indicate that could soon change.

After moving into a slightly different position at the club level, Southgate has elevated his game by playing him directly in midfield, where he played alongside Declan Rice and Jordan Henderson during their victory, just days after playing in the same midfield as England won 4-0 away against Malta.

These two games have shown his passing range and long-range shooting ability, and he has also demonstrated his ability to link up well outside of those areas in a role that is becoming more and more familiar as the games progress. In his postgame remarks, Southgate waxed poetic about the 24-year-old, saying that he was hoping Alexander-Arnold would provide his team with something “completely different.”

“He barely had to tag the pivot the other night, and he did it well. He had to make a lot of decisions tonight [against North Macedonia] and he did so almost flawlessly. He got his balls back in spades. In my opinion, he has everything to play because of his strong pressing,” said Southgate.

“Starting him there was something I didn’t even hesitate to do.
We could get a totally different result from it. He connected with Bukayo Saka for his second goal by using his vision, passing range, and connection.”

Of course, playing in this new position against lower-ranked teams like North Macedonia and Malta has given him the chance to express himself and get comfortable in this new role in a less-competitive setting, but it remains to be seen if he can perform like this in this position against a top-class team.

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Liverpool to benefit as England take Trent Alexander-Arnold’s new role to greater heights

Liverpool goalkeeper Vitezslav Jaros is set to face off against Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones in the Under-21s European Championships.

Liverpool attentions will be split between monitoring reported transfer targets and cheering on their own players at the Under-21s European Championships this summer.

The Reds are reportedly interested in Khephren Thuram, Manu Kone, Gabri Veiga and Ryan Gravenberch, continue to be linked with Micky van den Ven, and are admirers of Levi Colwill. Meanwhile, both Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones will represent England Under-21s in Romania and Georgia.

However, the midfield pair aren’t the only Liverpool representatives set to compete in the tournament. There is another, and his involvement is set to be even more prominent than originally anticipated.

Vitezslav Jaros is set to be Czech Republic’s first-choice goalkeeper for the tournament after their previous number one, Manchester United shot-stopper Matej Kovar, was forced to withdraw from their squad through injury. As a result, he is poised to lock horns with both Elliott and Jones, with England their opening opponents in Group C at the Adjarabet Arena in Batumi on Thursday.

Although only capped three times by his nation’s Under-21s side, including twice in qualification, Jaros is the most experienced goalkeeper in the Czech Republic squad with Vladimir Neumann and Jakub Markovic both still uncapped. The pair were originally fourth and fifth choice in the pecking order, with the Liverpool goalkeeper, who already served as back-up to Kovar, admitting it is an unusual scenario as he gets ready to start in goal.

“I was in the role of number two throughout the qualification,” Jaros told iSport in his homeland when reflecting on his recent promotion. “Then when you go on the court from a position of not playing, it’s a big change for any player.

“I had to change my mindset. Physically, nothing changes. All players are the same. Whether they play or not.

“I only found out afterwards (after Kovar withdrew). I was on vacation and suddenly the goalkeeper coach Petr Kouba calls me.

“He was telling me that this happened and what the situation was. In addition, Tonda Kinsky was injured. I didn’t know anything was wrong with him. He came to the meeting, greeted everyone.

“Then I saw Vlada Neuman. I said that there were a lot of us, four goalkeepers. Only then did I find out that Tonda wasn’t going either. We have never been in this position before. There is a first time for everything.”

Jaros joined the Reds from Slavia Prague in 2017, and although he is yet to play for Jurgen Klopp’s side, he has been on the bench four times – against Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup in February 2020, and for Champions League clashes with Ajax (home and away) and FC Midtjylland in the 2020/21 season. Meanwhile, the 21-year-old also enjoyed loan stints with St Patrick’s Athletic and Notts County, before spending last season on loan with Stockport County.

But while he started the season as first-choice for the Hatters, who would finish the season by losing to Carlisle United on penalties in the League Two play-off final, an first-half injury suffered in October against Salford ultimately sidelined him for two months.

“It’s not really [a difficult call],” manager Dave Challinor said in December following his return to fitness. “For me it’s the same call as it would be for a centre-forward, a centre-half, a centre-midfield player.

“What potentially happens is that Ben (Hinchcliffe) is possibly under a little bit more pressure than he will have been with Bobby (Jones), without being disrespectful to him, because all of a sudden in that scenario you do have a more defined number one and number two.

“With Vit coming back in, it’s what we said at the start of the season – it’s two number ones to go and fight for that place. Ultimately, the way things are at the minute, Ben is in control of what happens so, hopefully, Vit doesn’t get the opportunity and has to sit and be patient, because if that’s the case then things are going really well.”

That is ultimately how the season panned out, with Jaros, whose season highlight saw him save a penalty from England international James Maddison in the League Cup against Leicester City, limited to just 13 appearances for Stockport. As a result, he remained as an unused substitute, in reserve to Hinchcliffe, for the rest of the season.

“Everyone likes to play. It’s more pleasant,” he said. “I haven’t played for a long time, I was injured in Stockport. But I think that whenever I started for the Under-21s, I succeeded. I’ve always liked to ride in the rally and did my best for the team. We have a great team.

“I was number one at Stockport until I got injured. Then I was out of action for over two months. I came back and the team was just winning.

“In addition, the goalkeeper did not make any mistakes. I only played behind closed doors. No more official matches.

“You know how it works in football. When things are going well, the goalkeeper doesn’t give up. It was so unfortunate for me.

“When you go on loan, you want to play. I played some twelve games and after the injury I didn’t start again.”

Following a frustrating season, Jaros is hungry to use the European Championships as a chance to push on and make up for lost time. Set to turn 22 next month, there is potentially an opening in Klopp’s squad for a goalkeeper with speculation regarding Caoimhin Kelleher’s future at Anfield ongoing.

However, Jaros, who will be classified as a club-trained homegrown player if he remains at Liverpool, concedes he doesn’t know where his future lies beyond pre-season, and is both open to staying in England or moving further afield.

“When the goalkeeper is number two, he does not play,” he said. “He is not an outfield player who can jump in for 10, 15 minutes. If, for example, number one gets injured, number two will start. That’s normal.

“The Euros are the biggest ‘stage’ for this youth category. It’s a chance to prove yourself. It can definitely help me. I would like to play somewhere. Especially after this season.

“I should go to training (with Liverpool after the tournament). It will matter a lot to them. If the coach likes you, he can say that he will try you. My loan spell at Stockport is over, I’m back in Liverpool. We’ll see what can be found for me.

“I don’t know if the club will want me to stay or go somewhere else. When the chance comes, you have to take it.”

Hinting at an exit, he continued: “Players who are on loan are taken care of by a ‘loan manager’ in England. He is always having fun, writing, calling.

“Goalkeeper coaches watch the matches, we are in contact basically every week. Even if you’re not playing, they’ll still text and ask how you’re doing. They’ll ask if there’s any chance you’ll get on next time.

“I got used to life and football there (in England). If there is a good offer, I will be happy to stay. But I’m not against change either. I am open to everything.”

Igbo Kennedy

Igbo Kennedy

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