Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold is proving critics wrong just in time for England's Euro 2020 bid.
The 22-year-old is back on form ahead of Gareth Southgate's squad announcement next week – even in an area of his game that has been much criticised this season.
Alexander-Arnold carved out several chances as Jurgen Klopp's side beat West Brom on Sunday – including his crucial assist for Alisson's incredible header which kept Liverpool's Champions League dream alive.
The defender bagged the Reds' player of the month award for April, having hit back at his critics with a goal and four assists since being axed from Southgate's Three Lions squad for the March international break.
But it's not just in an attacking sense that Alexander-Arnold has upped his game – after Danny Murphy highlighted the strides the right-back has made in his defensive work.
“He’s been brilliant for a while now but you looks sharper and fitter to me,” the former Reds midfielder said on Match of the Day 2 after Liverpool's win at The Hawthorns.
“He looks like he’s got that sharpness back. He always plays with great confidence going forward."
Alexander-Arnold's pace enabled him to make several recoveries against the Baggies, and Murphy said: “His decision making is good and his defensive side was good today.
“That extra burst of pace there I’m talking about, which maybe he was lacking a little bit earlier in the season, which is understandable as he’s played non-stop for two years.
“The worrying thing for Liverpool is that he’s becoming the playmaker and the creator from a full-back position – other players need to do better.”
Back in March, Southgate opted for Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker and Reece James as his right-back options, with Alexander-Arnold having been out of form earlier in the season.
There has been plenty of speculation that the Liverpool man could again be snubbed for this summer's European Championship finals, despite his recent upturn – especially after impressive campaigns for Chelsea star James and Manchester City ace Walker.
But with Alexander-Arnold having improved defensively as well as in an attacking sense, he could prove vital to the Reds' Champions League chances in their remaining two Premier League games.
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And he has surely made himself impossible for Southgate to ignore.
And Micah Richards agreed with Murphy that the England boss must pick him in his 26-man squad – even if it's as an extra creative option in midfield.
“Regardless of if he’s in bad form, he’s still got to go," said the former Man City right-back. "He’s showed, he’s got his Player of the Month award, and he’s just got everything to his game.
“The thing is now you’ve got 26 players, he has to go, even if he has to go in that midfield role. For someone of that quality, look at his delivery of the ball, set-pieces.”
Alexander-Arnold still has two games left to show Southgate his worth, with Liverpool away to Burnley on Wednesday and at home to Crystal Palace on Sunday – the day before the England boss names his squad.
It remains to be seen whether Southgate will be convinced – but Klopp's side will certainly be glad to have Alexander-Arnold back on top of his game with two games left to ensure their Champions League return.
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