Eddie Howe sure ‘incredible’ Kieran Trippier is right man for key England role

Chelsea full-back Reece James may not be able to make it to Qatar.
Eddie Howe sure ‘incredible’ Kieran Trippier is right man for key England role

By Damian Spellman, PA

England will be in safe hands if they head for the World Cup finals with Kieran Trippier as their first-choice right-back.

That is the view of Trippier’s Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe after his chances of working his way into Gareth Southgate’s starting XI were boosted by injuries to competitors Reece James, Kyle Walker and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Chelsea’s James is to see a specialist this weekend over the knee injury he suffered during Tuesday night’s 2-0 Champions League win at AC Milan amid fears he could miss the tournament, while Manchester City’s Walker is recovering from groin surgery and Liverpool’s Alexander-Arnold is nursing an ankle problem.

Kieran Trippier
Kieran Trippier is currently England’s first-choice right-back (Nick Potts/PA)

Asked if England would be in safe hands in Qatar if Trippier was the man in possession, Howe said: “Absolutely. Just look at his performances this year, he’s been incredible.

“Even last year, in the brief time he played, he made a massive impact, both on the pitch and off it, in terms of his leadership. He has continued to do the same and we’re seeing more of him because he’s been fitter for longer.

“Just look at the first goal we scored against Brentford, which is always a gamechanger. It was his cross from the short corner, and it can really be underestimated how difficult that skill is, to put it exactly where Bruno (Guimaraes) needed it to be to score.

“It was an incredible highlight of his technical quality. But also his defending is of a very good level and I can’t speak highly enough of him.”

Trippier found himself at the centre of a raging debate last month after Southgate had elevated him above Alexander-Arnold in his pecking order, although he did not make it off the bench for the Nations League games against Italy and Germany.

His form for Newcastle since his £12million January arrival from Atletico Madrid has been exemplary and although he made only four Premier League appearances before suffering a fractured metatarsal, he played a significant role in the club’s survival fight.

His influence off the pitch has been as important as that on it, and Howe admits his very presence at St James’ Park helped the club land those who followed him to Tyneside.

He said: “It wasn’t necessarily our intention to make our first signing a ‘statement’ signing, however you want to label it, but I do think it was a good thing, looking back, that it was Kieran because it hopefully helped us with what followed.

“Players look at the calibre of player you’re signing and (think), ‘if he wants to come, it must be a good environment’. People look at things like that.

“Kieran was very, very good in our discussions with him. There was no fear from him about coming to a team that was in the relegation zone with a potential of being relegated. He was, ‘no, I want to fight, I want to come and I’ll help the team stay in the league’, that was very much his mindset.

“All the players we signed, they all followed suit with that feeling, and I definitely think that helped when they were in the building.”

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