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Gareth Southgate explains decision to play ‘underrated’ Kieran Trippier at left-back in Croatia win

·2-min read
Gareth Southgate explains decision to play ‘underrated’ Kieran Trippier at left-back in Croatia win
 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Gareth Southgate has explained his decision to start Kieran Trippier at left-back in England’s Euro 2020 win over Croatia, and says the Atletico Madrid defender remains “very underrated”.

Southgate made several bold calls with his team selection for the Group D opener at Wembley on Sunday, but his choices were justified as Raheem Sterling’s goal got the Three Lions off to a winning start for the first time ever at a European Championships.

Despite having both Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell in his squad, Southgate opted to start Trippier - usually a right-back - on the left of a back four, next to centre-half Tyrone Mings, who was playing his first major tournament game.

Explaining the decision, Southgate told BBC Radio 5Live: “We felt that his talking across the backline and his ability to get out and stop crosses quickly and his experience on a day like today - alongside Tyrone Mings, who is relatively early in his international career - would be a good stabilising element.”

Trippier has been a consistent feature in Southgate’s squads and played a key role in the run to the semi-finals of the last World Cup, playing as a right-wing-back in a back-five.

He has since left Tottenham for Atletico Madrid and Southgate believes many England fans do not yet appreciate the improvement he has made under Diego Simeone as he played a pivotal part in this year’s LaLiga title win.

“He is a very underrated player,” Southgate added. “People are still looking at the player from a few years ago and not at the one who is at Atletico Madrid and playing like a warrior in the last few seasons.

“He is a big part of what we’ve done over the last few years and he gave a really good performance.”

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