England at Euro 2024: Trent Alexander-Arnold could get ripped apart in midfield, says Roy Keane

15 June 2024, 18:53 | Updated: 16 June 2024, 15:12

Roy Keane insists Trent Alexander-Arnold would be "found out" in midfield against top teams during the knockout stages of Euro 2024, while Gary Neville agrees that he is not a solution in the position for England in the bigger games.

The Liverpool star is expected to be used by Gareth Southgate in a midfield role, alongside Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham, in England's group-stage opener against Serbia on Sunday.

"England have got some brilliant individuals; four or five players who would walk into any team in this tournament," Keane said on ITV Sport. "But it's about getting the balance right.

"You have players who can go and win you matches but the problem is defending against better teams. I think they will be fine in the group. Trent will be fine [in midfield].

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"But against really top teams, I think he will be found out. I think he would be ripped to shreds if he played against one of the better teams in central midfield. I don't think he would be up to it."

Neville said: "Serbia are going to play deep and England are going to need to find a way to cut them open. I can see why Trent works in this particular match.

"As the tournament moves on, I don't think it will remain that way, I think other players will come into the fold.

"There's a clamour for a midfield of Rice, Bellingham and [Phil] Foden. I don't think Gareth will give us that because of the defence.

"What Trent playing there does is it basically allows Kyle Walker to stay back, almost as a third centre-back, as he has done for most of the season at Manchester City, and allows Trent to go in on that right-hand side and deliver.

"So, I can see why it works but I'm not sure it will be the solution as the tournament moves on. I think [Conor] Gallagher will come in in certain games."

Elsewhere in England's midfield, there have been some suggestions of Rice playing as the only holding midfielder - but Neville strongly disagrees and believes there will be someone lining up alongside the Arsenal man.

He added: "He [Southgate] will always bring in a player to play alongside Declan Rice in midfield. This idea we are going to see Bellingham, or Palmer, or Foden in front of Rice is a non-starter.

"Real Madrid won the Champions League final with Bellingham playing just off the front and they had [Toni] Kroos, [Eduardo] Camavinga and [Federico] Valverde behind him.

"Man City have [Mateo] Kovacic and Rodri at times in midfield to support what they do, Arsenal had to bring in Jorginho at times because Rice could not do it on his own because they were getting cut open - every top team has that two, or three, in there.

"This idea that Gareth has to go with one holding midfielder… Rice is not a holding midfielder, he is someone who wanders off a little bit, so for me it is not ridiculous to suggest we play with two."

The Sky Sports pundit also has concerns over England's defence. They are without key players such as Harry Maguire, and only have one recognised left-back - Luke Shaw - who remains an injury doubt.

"I think [Marc] Guehi is an exciting young player," Neville added to ITV Sport. "But when you think about wining a tournament, unless this tournament is going to show us something previous tournaments haven't, then defensively you need to be strong to go the whole way.

"That is the massive worry of everybody. Unless Gareth finds a way to compensate for the defence, I'm struggling in my mind to see how we go the whole way with that back four unless they play the games of their lives every single game, which I can't see happening."

The key dates for England

All times BST

Saturday June 16 - Serbia vs England, Gelsenkirchen, kick-off 8pm

Thursday June 20 - Denmark vs England, Frankfurt, kick-off 5pm

Tuesday June 25 - England vs Slovenia, kick-off 8pm