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Jurgen Klopp has been urged to drop Trent Alexander-Arnold from his immediate plans at Liverpool, with David James suggesting that the out-of-sorts right-back is in need of a “breather”.
He has taken in over 150 appearances for the reigning Premier League champions, while also collecting 12 caps for England.
Much has been expected and demanded of Alexander-Arnold at a time when he should still be learning his trade, with a burst onto the scene seeing expectation soar around him.
He has delivered for the most part, with an impressive haul of assists contributed to the cause, but his high standards have started to slip of late.
An untimely injury has done him few favours, but James believes the time has come to take the youngster out of the firing line and allow him to work on rediscovering a spark.
The former Liverpool goalkeeper told Stadium Astro after seeing Alexander-Arnold struggle again in a 1-0 defeat at Southampton: “I don’t like criticising players for any other reason thanwhat you see, but my understanding is 38 giveaways – the most by a Premier League player this season.
“This is an interesting player. He came into the Liverpool side young, was forced into the side more than by choice, and he hit the ground running.
“He got loads of plaudits and was an integral part of Liverpool’s success in the Premier League, Champions League, World Club Championship and has represented England.
“He’s not a bad player, but at the same time he hasn’t had any respite. He had the injury earlier in the season but young players are going to have off form. Unfortunately for Trent he is going through that.
“Maybe the injury he picked up against Manchester City, calf strain, he hasn’t been used to anything else other than playing for Liverpool, and then an injury takes him into a different space. I don’t think he has recovered from that mentally or in his normal life habit.
“What you don’t want is to have a bad run of form that results in losses, and this was a loss. Jurgen Klopp is very honest in his assessment and stopped short of saying Trent could’ve kicked the ball away for Danny Ings’ goal. But he brought him off, which was a surprise in some eyes.
“For Trent, as a young player, there is an argument that you could take him out of the firing line for a week or two. The FA Cup is coming up, maybe that is a good opportunity to let him settle down.
“For Gareth Southgate, he will be asking whether Trent is the right player to bring back into the England squad right now. He might need a break.”
James added on a forgettable showing against the Saints, which has seen Liverpool’s winless run extended to three games: “Trent didn’t offer anything. The crossing opportunities weren’t good enough.
“Everyone is entitled to one bad game. Trent’s performances of late, when you collect them together, haven’t been great.
“Do you drop him, or do you rest him? The word dropped sounds somewhat final. I think it’s giving someone a breather. I think he needs a rest.”