Neville, who participated in numerous tournaments for England and was also one of their so-called “Golden Generation”, has been very vocal about what he wants to see in the Three Lions since his retirement from the game. Now working as a football media personality and pundit on Sky Sports, his opinions have become even louder.
His latest opinion is that Southgate, with whom he played many times in his time as an England international, should ignore the obvious choice of Trent Alexander-Arnold for the right back slot ahead of Qatar 2022. Neville has opined that Arsenal centre-back Ben White, who has found great success on the right hand side of defence of recent after being deposed by the partnership of William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes in centre-back, is a much better option for the role.
The 24-year-old has delivered the best attacking returns from any defender in football history, and at such a young age, has been compared to the greats who have played in his position. Alexander-Arnold’s defending, however, has been called into question for most of his Liverpool career.
His most recent outing for Liverpool saw him display how invaluable he is to the Reds’ attack while also highlighting his defensive lapses. Neville, who was analysing the game, immediately asked for Alexander-Arnold to be dropped because of his defensive liability.
He said on Sky Sports: “It’s a really tough one because his brilliance going forward is out of this world, but we’re talking about knockout football. How England are going to win or lose in the World Cup is going to come down to a moment, a mistake, concentration. And at this moment in time, I can’t see how Gareth could go into a knockout game of a World Cup playing Trent Alexander-Arnold.
“I want this player to be the greatest right-back of all time. He’s got the ability to do that. But today, at times, again, he looked like he could cost Liverpool dearly. And he does rash things. In the World Cup, I think he’s given away a penalty today. We saw some of those challenges today.”
Neville then suggested that White has to go with England’s other right back options – Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker and Reece James – due to his versatility in defence.
Neville believes that if all of these three are fit, Neville should select his right back options from them and throw White into the mix as he would be a much better option than Alexander-Arnold.
Like the rest of the World Cup participants, England’s squad list will be available this week. It remains to be seen if Southgate will take his ex-teammate’s advice on squad selection.