Reece James has dismissed the criticism of his England teammate Trent Alexander-Arnold, after detractors claimed the Liverpool star couldn’t defend.
England are blessed with world-class options at right-back and there is much debate about who should be at the very top of the pecking order, especially with the World Cup in Qatar fast approaching.
Alexander-Arnold, Chelsea’s James and Man City’s Kyle Walker are the main contenders, and Southgate has given each of them the opportunity to start during England’s Nations League campaign.
‘I’ll try everything I can [to be first choice],’ said James, who started the goalless draw with Italy on Saturday night.
‘Only my performances will be able to prove what I can bring. In these games and building into next season I’ll hopefully be able to show that I’m ready to play every game.’
The 22-year-old has experienced a rise since making his Chelsea debut in 2019, performing well as both a right-back, right-wing-back and even as a central defender in a three-man defence, aiding them to their Champions League triumph in 2021.
Last campaign, James struggled with injuries but still managed to record five goals and nine assists in the Premier League, and, if fit, will certainly be a part of Southgate’s squad in Qatar.
While Walker, as the oldest and most experienced, is likely to be first choice, there are many who believe James should be next in line, despite Alexander-Arnold’s creativity and status as one of, if not the best, in his position in the world.
Those who take this stance often claim that the Liverpool star is not good enough defensively, but James hit back at the critics, adding: ‘I make mistakes as well. I gave away a penalty against Hungary, so we are both still learning our trade.
‘Liverpool have 95 per cent of the ball and he defends less than I have to. People have a lot of stuff to say and don’t really know the game. Trent is a great player.’