Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp must drop out-of-sorts Trent Alexander-Arnold after the defender's torrid showing against Southampton, according to former Reds goalkeeper David James.
Alexander-Arnold had an uncharacteristically sloppy evening during the 1-0 defeat at St Mary's, giving the ball away 38 times – the most of any Premier League player in a single game this season.
The 22-year-old has been a cut above the division's other right-backs in recent years but his form has been mixed this campaign.
His pinpoint deliveries from the right flank have been missing since he suffered a calf injury in November, and James insists Alexander-Arnold is in need of a break.
The former England shot-stopper told Stadium Astro : “I don’t like criticising players for any other reason than what 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.
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“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.
Why is Trent Alexander-Arnold struggling this season? Have your say here.
“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.”
Giving his final verdict on what must be done with Alexander-Arnold, James added: "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.”
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