Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham’s likely partner in England midfield revealed

Trent Alexander-Arnold is favourite to start England’s opening Euro 2024 game against Serbia alongside Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham, according to reports.

Alexander-Arnold has been handed the number eight shirt for the tournament, suggesting he’ll continue operating in the centre of midfield rather than his usual role of right-back – a position he’s widely considered to be one of the best in the world in.

The Liverpool star impressed in midfield during England’s 3-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina at the beginning of June, scoring either side of goals from Cole Palmer and Harry Kane, and the Telegraph and Guardian report that he’s favourite to be given the nod by Gareth Southgate.

Conor Gallagher, Kobbie Mainoo and Adam Wharton are the other options available to Southgate, who is guaranteed to start Arsenal’s Declan Rice and Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham barring any late fitness concerns.

It remains to be seen how England’s midfield structure will actually look, but Alexander-Arnold could sit in a deep-lying midfield pivot alongside Rice, freeing Bellingham to push further forward, and doing so would allow him to lean on his extraordinary range of passing.

The 25-year-old could also push higher up the pitch, dropping Rice into a lone anchor role, and has shown a keen eye for goal ever since he broke into Liverpool’s team back in 2017.

Declan RiceDeclan Rice

Alexander-Arnold looks set to partner Declan Rice / Catherine Ivill – AMA/GettyImages

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Southgate has publicly stated that Alexander-Arnold was given the number eight shirt “for a reason”, and he’ll follow in the footsteps of some of England’s greatest ever talents. Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes and Steven Gerrard all wore England’s number eight jersey at stages of their career – three players who formed part of the Three Lions’ Golden Generation at the beginning of the 21st century.

Selecting a starting midfield could be the least of Southgate’s worries heading into England’s first game, with preparations affected not only by the shock 1-0 defeat to Iceland on Friday, but also by injuries to key defenders.

Harry Maguire did not make the final 26-player squad after failing to overcome a calf injury, while Manchester United teammate Luke Shaw is not fully fit and would be a risk to immediately throw in at left-back.

That means that England could start with Kieran Trippier playing on the left, alongside Manchester City duo Kyle Walker and John Stones and Crystal Palace’s Marc Guehi, who appears to be the obvious successor to Maguire.

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