Jurgen Klopp backs Trent Alexander-Arnold after Gary Neville’s World Cup concerns over defender

Jurgen Klopp has come out to defend Trent Alexander-Arnold, pointing out that the full-back has played in and won a number of finals already in his career, after Gary Neville voiced his concerns for the Liverpool defender in knockout matches at the World Cup in Qatar.

Alexander-Arnold was named in Gareth Southgate’s England World Cup squad on Thursday but has featured in a debate surrounding England’s right-back talents, which include Manchester City’s Kyle Walker, Chelsea’s Reece James and Newcastle’s Kieran Trippier.

Discussing the World Cup after Liverpool’s victory over Tottenham in the Premier League last weekend, Gary Neville said on Sky Sports: “In this moment in time, I can’t see how Gareth can go into a knockout game in a World Cup playing Trent Alexander-Arnold.”

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When asked about Neville’s comments, Klopp replied: “I didn’t speak to him [about the England call-up], but I know Trent now for long enough, and he knows that apart from playing football, he has no influence [on the squad selection]. There’s a lot of talk around these kinds of things.

“I heard Gary Neville said something on the big games, like he can’t play in the knockout games. But Trent Alexander-Arnold is now 24 and won quite a few finals, important games where you have to defend,” continued Klopp.

“He’s played finals – against Chelsea, for example, last year in a final that was incredibly intense – facing world-class players who are better than the players they will face at the World Cup, definitely.

“And he was always there, defending well. I don’t know why we have this discussion, but it’s fine.

“I am not sure he was in doubt, but with all the discussions – at least the discussions I followed – if everyone had been available, it was likely you don’t take four right-backs.

“I don’t know exactly why we have this discussion, but it’s fine. When you have the choice between four or five – and [Kyle] Walker is kind of fit, and Reece James obviously is not available – I think Gareth is very happy he has Trent as well.

“Trent took it, he is very calm. He plays the football he plays, tries to improve, tries to develop, but I think he would have been disappointed if he had not been there.”

Klopp also spoke about the expectations he has from his players regarding communication during the World Cup, saying: “We have seven at the World Cup. They are very important players. We have a clear rule, how it is with international games: the boys have to text me straight away if there are any issues after a game.

“If they are winning, it is clear because the WhatsApp group will go bonkers… We’re in Dubai around the corner. If someone needs to leave the World Cup early, they can join us. That’s one of the reasons we go there.”

Liverpool will host Southampton in the league on Saturday, becoming the first opponents for new Saints boss Nathan Jones, who is set to take charge of his first Premier League game after he replaced Ralph Hasenhuttl, who was sacked after nearly four years at the club.

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