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England slammed for leaving 'most creative' players out of Italy game

Ryan Sidle

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England slammed for leaving 'most creative' players out of Italy game

Gary Lineker has piled onto the criticism of Gareth Southgate, saying the England manager left his two most creative players out, with one not even in the squad.

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Southgate came under pressure in the summer when England slumped to bottom of their Nations League group by failing to win any of their four post season games.

On Friday night that pressure grew, as the Three Lions lost to their Euro 2020 final opponents, Italy, and were sent crashing to their fate of relegation from League A.

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Fans weren't sure what the formation was ahead of the game but after the match criticism was all about those who didn't make the starting XI.

Jude Bellingham, Declan Rice and Harry Maguire sum up the mood of the nation. Image: Alamy
Jude Bellingham, Declan Rice and Harry Maguire sum up the mood of the nation. Image: Alamy

In particular the decision to start Harry Maguire, who has only started in all three of Manchester United's defeats this season, and none of the five wins, ahead of AC Milan star Fikayo Tomori put the spotlight on the manager.

Whilst Giacomo Raspadori's goal was the difference in the game, it was also the visitors lack of creativity, as well as defensive personnel, that caused concern.

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Southgate's side are yet to score a goal from open play in the five games in the Nations League so far this year, and that's where Lineker aimed his criticism.

The Match of the Day pundit claimed that the country's most creative defender, Trent Alexander-Arnold, was getting 'splinters in his ar*e,' and said the most creative midfielder, James Maddison, wasn't even in the squad.

Alexander-Arnold's troubles to get into Southgate's XI have been long running, despite often being considered the best right back in the world.

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His brilliance mainly comes from his attacking ability, with his defensive issues sometimes a problem for Liverpool, and he works best in a team who press high.

With England having a rich well of right backs to choose from, and Southgate not playing a particularly attacking or high pressing system, the Liverpool full back has often been overlooked.

A back five, that Southgate often plays, should allow him to get more game time but it hasn't helped, leading to pundits thinking he won't even make the squad for the World Cup in November.

Alexander-Arnold has spent a long time as a substitute for England. Image: Alamy
Alexander-Arnold has spent a long time as a substitute for England. Image: Alamy
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Maddison has struggled to get into Southgate's plans at all, with the Leicester City star having only managed to earn one cap so far.

The 25-year-old may have lost the trust of the manager after pulling out of a squad in 2019 through illness, only to be spotted in a casino soon after.

He does have lots of competition in forward positions but there are few natural number 10s in Southgate's squad, and Laura Woods has been amongst the many baffled why the former Norwich City man can't get a look in.

The stats certainly back up that Maddison would be a much more creative source than the likes of Mason Mount, James Ward-Prowse and even fan favourite Jack Grealish.

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Will either player get into Southgate's team before the World Cup later in the year?

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: England, Gareth Southgate, UEFA Nations League, Football World Cup, Trent Alexander-Arnold, James Maddison, Gary Lineker

Ryan Sidle
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