Ex-Liverpool youth coach Karl Robinson believes Trent Alexander-Arnold will be “fearless” heading into the World Cup after a whirlwind season.
Alexander-Arnold has enjoyed a remarkable rise over the past two years, from the Reds’ U18s ranks to starting in the Champions League final, and now he is part of the England squad.
Though his call-up to Gareth Southgate’s 23-man group for Russia came as something of a surprise, having made only three appearances for the U21s, it was certainly deserved.
He is expected to start on the bench for Monday’s opener against Tunisia, with the reliable Kieran Trippier preferred.
But if Alexander-Arnold is called upon Robinson, who worked with him at the academy before moving into management, believes he will be ready.
“I have known Trent since he was six,” the Oxford United manager told the Witney Gazette:
“I remember him when he first came into the academy at Liverpool all those years ago. Now he’s in a World Cup squad—it’s amazing.
“And I have known Dele [Alli] since he was 13 or 14—so it’s quite exceptional to see where they are now.
“Just to see [Alexander-Arnold] getting the accolades he is getting is great.
“I have not spoken to him for 10 years. I have followed his progress of course, but I don’t live up there any more and our paths haven’t crossed.
“His mum was always very strong and I think Trent still lives at home with her.
“He will be fearless [if he gets the chance to play]. That can be very good, but also a bit frightening. But I am thrilled for him.”
Though as Robinson concedes his connection with Alexander-Arnold came years ago, his qualities were clearly apparent from a very early age.
He was a sleeper hit in the Liverpool academy, with the likes of Jordan Rossiter, Cameron Brannagan, Sheyi Ojo and Ben Woodburn taking bigger outside focus, and his drive has been key.
It can be argued that he should start ahead of Trippier at the World Cup, particularly given his abilities as a right wing-back, but his lack of international experience has clearly led to caution from Southgate.
By the end of the tournament, however, it would be no shock to see the 19-year-old having made the starting role his own.
If he is given the chance, as Robinson attests, Alexander-Arnold will certainly be ready for the challenge.