Paul Merson explains why Chelsea super star should be in England squad for Euro 2024 squad

Paul Merson explains why Chelsea super star should be in England squad for Euro 2024 squad

Reece James should be in England’s squad for Euro 2024 as Trent Alexander-Arnold can’t be trusted at right-back.

That is the opinion of Paul Merson who was ‘really shocked’ to see the Chelsea captain omitted from Gareth Southgate’s 33-man preliminary squad.

The three right-backs selected – Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and Alexander-Arnold – are expected to still be included when the squad is trimmed to 26 ahead of the tournament.

The Manchester City captain is first-choice in that position, while it is thought hat the other two could fill in elsewhere, specifically Trippier at left-back and Alexander-Arnold in midfield.

But Merson believes that James would have added a lot more, saying on Sky Sports: ‘I don’t get that one. I think he’s one of the best in the business.

‘I know he’s had a long injury but [Luke] Shaw’s been out a long time. I’m quite shocked.

‘Kyle Walker plays at right-back but if you bring Reece James as well it opens it up into playing a three at the back sometimes. You might want to play three at the back against better teams.

England’s provisional squad for Euro 2024

Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson (Crystal Palace), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal), James Trafford (Burnley)

Defenders: Jarrad Branthwaite (Everton), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Ezri Konsa (Aston Villa), Harry Maguire (Man Utd), Jarell Quansah (Liverpool), Luke Shaw (Man Utd), John Stones (Man City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Kyle Walker (Man City)

Midfielders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Curtis Jones (Liverpool), Kobbie Mainoo (Man Utd), Declan Rice (Arsenal), Adam Wharton (Crystal Palace)

Forwards: Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid), Jarrod Bowen (West Ham), Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace), Phil Foden (Man City), Jack Grealish (Man City), Anthony Gordon (Newcastle), Harry Kane (Bayern Munich), James Maddison (Tottenham), Cole Palmer (Chelsea), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ivan Toney (Brentford), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa)

‘Reece James is one of the best wingbacks about. And then if he goes to right-back, you can put Walker into centre-half and then we might have to chase a game against someone, you’ve got Walker’s pace at the back.’

Many saw James’ snub coming, given that he has missed nearly the entire campaign with hamstring injuries, restricting him to just 10 appearances, six of them starts.

He also missed games after picking up two red cards, and has not played for his country since March 2023 having won 16 caps and been part of the squad that lost the Euro 2020 final.

Yet Merson is more concerned about Liverpool vice-captain Alexander-Arnold, who has at times been a defensive liability for his club, despite his excellent offensive abilities.

‘I’m not sure about Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back, I’m not,’ the Arsenal legend added.

‘I think he’s a talented player, his range of passing is second to none. I think he’s the best passer in the whole of the country but I don’t think he’s a defender at international level.’

Southgate has given himself other right-back options in his squad, namely the versatile Joe Gomez who has played across the back-line for Liverpool and Ezri Konsa who has played there for Aston Villa at times.

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