The bold England experiment that could have huge ramifications for Man Utd, Chelsea, and Crystal Palace stars

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The Three Lions could opt for an unorthodox midfield selection against Serbia on Sunday

He’s going to do it. The madman is actually going to do it. After months, nay, years of flirting with the notion, of experimenting in dead rubber qualifiers and forgettable exhibition matches, Gareth Southgate looks set to pull the proverbial trigger and start Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield for England’s opening Euro 2024 group stage encounter against Serbia on Sunday evening. In truth, that number eight shirt should have been a dead giveaway.

According to a report from The Guardian, the Waistcoated One ‘is keen to utilise the Liverpool vice-captain’s range of passing and is giving serious consideration to beginning the Euros with him in the team’. It would be a divisive decision in the eyes of many.

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While England’s strongest XI unquestionably includes Arsenal enforcer Declan Rice and Brummie wunderkind Jude Bellingham, it has not been abundantly clear as to who the third man in the Three Lions’ engine room will be. Having left Jordan Henderson and Kalvin Phillips at home - and with Jack Wilshere’s Soccer Aid masterclass coming just the wrong side of Southgate’s squad announcement - there is a general lack of genuine experience in the centre of the park.

Manchester United’s emerging boy prince Kobbie Mainoo has been fast-tracked into the senior international setup, as has Crystal Palace metronome Adam Wharton, and Chelsea stalwart Conor Gallagher is always a willing and industrious presence, but none have staked enough of a claim to resolve the conversation, and it is in this context that Southgate persists with the prospect of converting Trent.

There are pros and cons to this. On the one hand, as mentioned by The Guardian, nobody in the England camp can claim to eclipse the Liverpool full-back’s range of distribution, and his ability to suddenly shift the emphasis of an attack, or to release a teammate in behind a stubborn opposition with a deftly-realised diagonal, could prove to be an invaluable asset in a side that have, on occasion, been prone to a lack of inventiveness.

On the other, there are those who question his positional discipline, and plenty more besides that would argue, for all of his obvious pedigree, that his decision-making in a central role still leaves a little to be desired. Then there is the elephant in room; over the course of England’s preparation for Euro 2024, they have often looked at their most threatening when Alexander-Arnold has been allowed to slot back into the position that he occupies at club level.

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The possibility of him starting this summer’s tournament as Southgate’s preferred midfield option is, therefore, an intriguing one - and one that could have huge ramifications not just for Trent, but also for the hopes of Mainoo, Wharton, and Gallagher. If all goes well against Serbia, that trio may not get a look in whatsoever. Conversely, if Alexander-Arnold fails to have the desired impact, then his stumble could open up all kinds of awkward questions and headaches for the Three Lions heading into their second group game against Denmark on June 20th.

Either way, all eyes are bound to be on the Liverpool talisman this Sunday. Here’s hoping he can withstand the scrutiny.

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