What a few days it’s been for Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Tipped by many to miss out on a place in Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 squad, the 22-year-old was the headline inclusion when the England boss revealed his 26-man party for the tournament on Tuesday.
Southgate went on to firmly back the player, and defend his inclusion of four right-backs in his squad, with Alexander-Arnold joining Kyle Walker, Kieran Tripper and Reece James.
24 hours later, the Liverpool star was making his case for a starting berth ahead of his rivals, as he impressed in England’s warm-up game against Austria at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium. Until, disaster struck.
With around eight minutes left, an innocous-looking clearance saw Alexander-Arnold pull up in pain, before limping off around the pitch with the aid of a physio, leaving England to finish the game with 10 men.
Southgate admitted afterwards that it didn’t look good for the player. His tournament may be over before it has even begun.
How bad is Alexander-Arnold’s injury?
ITV viewers and commentators were desperately trying to lip read what Alexander-Arnold said to the physio as he received treatment, with some claiming he mouthed ‘it’s gone’.
“It looks like thigh (injury) but we don’t know the extent at the moment,” Southgate said.
“Clearly it’s not a good sign that he had to walk off and looked in some discomfort with it, but we’ll know more in the next 24-48 hours.”
How long does it take to recover from a thigh injury?
Recovery depends on the severity of the strain, with medical experts and physios classing them as ‘grades’.
As a general rule, grade one thigh strains should be rested from sporting activity for about three weeks, and grade two thigh strains for about 4 to 6 weeks. In the case of a complete rupture the thigh muscle will have to be repaired surgically and the rehabilitation afterwards will take about three months.
With England’s first Euro 2020 game coming in 10 days on Sunday 13th June, it doesn’t give Alexander-Arnold long to recover regardless of the severity.
Who will replace Alexander-Arnold in the Euro 2020 squad?
This is where it potentially gets tricky. Southgate’s inclusion of four right-backs was scoffed at by many pundits, who said there was no need to take so many specialists in one position.
It seemed that the inclusion of the four was at the expense of a midfielder, with Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse and Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard missing out from the provisional 33-man squad.
It would make sense to replace Alexander-Arnold with one of them. Lingard started against Austria and has been in fine form since his loan move to West Ham, but is an attacking midfielder and England are well stocked with players in that area. It may be that Ward-Prowse gets the nod, especially with lingering fitness doubts over Jordan Henderson and Kalvin Phillips.
Fitness doubts in defence remain, however. Harry Maguire looks unlikely to be fit for the opening game against Croatia after an ankle injury, so if Southgate wants to bolster his defensive options he has Ben Godfrey and Ben White to choose from. Both made their England debuts from the bench against Austria – White’s ability to play in a vareity of positions, including midfield, would appear to give him the edge.
Who do you think should replace Alexander-Arnold in the England squad? Leave your verdict in the comments section below