John Barnes claims Aaron Wan-Bissaka is the ‘best right-back by far in the country’ and was ‘unfairly overlooked’ for England’s Euro 2020 squad.
Gareth Southgate selected four right-backs in his final 26-man squad for this summer’s tournament, with Reece James, Kieran Tripper, Kyle Walker and Trent Alexander-Arnold all making the cut.
Wan-Bissaka, meanwhile, missed out despite a solid season for Manchester United, in which he made 54 appearances across all competitions as the Red Devils finished second in the Premier League and reached the Europa League final.
And former Liverpool and England winger Barnes believes the 23-year-old’s omission was unjust given his defensive prowess compared to the other right-backs in the squad.
Look at Aaron Wan-Bissaka – he is our best right-back by far in this country,’ Barnes told BonusCodeBets.
‘But because he is not as good on the ball as the others, he got unfairly overlooked.
‘So when we come up against a team like France, that is when you don’t need a marauding player who will be more comfortable whipping in crosses and free-kicks in attacking areas.
‘Everyone is clamouring for attacking right backs or number tens, but do not pay enough respect to players who are out and out defenders or defensive midfielders.
‘It doesn’t matter if Southgate plays four or five at the back, if you don’t have players who can defend properly, it is immaterial.’
Alexander-Arnold limped off during England’s friendly victory against Austria on Wednesday after picking up a suspected thigh injury, which Southgate claimed is ‘not a good sign’ with just over a week to go until the start of the tournament.
However, with the amount of cover in the position, Barnes doesn’t feel that losing the right-back would be too much of a concern.
He added: ‘I’ve never known such a fervour about one position on a football pitch before Trent got injured – and you could say it is probably lucky we already had three others in the squad!
‘He is one of our best right-backs, but we have so many options in that position, so it’s actually not a great loss to England. It’s obviously extremely sad for Trent and I feel for him – but we have so much cover there, so it should not be detrimental to England’s chances.
‘If Harry Kane limped off against Austria, I’d be sitting here being far more concerned for England. It’s also lucky for Liverpool that this bad-looking injury has happened in the off season.’