Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said Trent Alexander-Arnold was “in no celebratory mood” when he returned from his international role with England.
The full-back was selected for the UEFA Nations League matches but was an unused substitute against Italy and was omitted from the squad for the Germany match at Wembley.
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England manager Gareth Southgate said Newcastle United’s Kieran Trippier was better than Alexander-Arnold but Klopp was defiant in his defense of his player.
“We’re fine here, it’s completely different. I see Trent differently, and it shows,” he told a news conference on Friday before facing Brighton at the weekend.
“People talk about he’s not a good defender, that’s not right, he’s a good defender, he doesn’t always defend well, that’s right.
“He’s 23. We’re working on it. Whichever team I have at the moment, I’d choose Trent. He’s exceptional.
“England are lucky to have two players in this position. Reece James can play 3 at the back, and he did that well with Chelsea. It’s Gareth’s decision. He made it. I see it differently. It doesn’t mean right or wrong.”
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Klopp added: “Trent is no longer in a festive mood, but he accepts the manager’s decision because he is very smart.
“The manager decides and most of the time that’s the issue that gets picked. He’s obviously a world-class player.”
Klopp also confirmed that Andy Robertson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Curtis Jones and Naby Keita would not be available for Saturday’s Premier League match at Anfield.
Luis Diaz could appear despite his return from Thursday’s international break and Klopp reiterated his rejection of the World Cup mid-season.
“I don’t know how the World Cup will affect the Premier League,” he added. “The boys come back and play after a week. You usually relax 2-3 weeks and then come back again.
“If you’re in the final, you have two days. It’s a really long season. I don’t think it’s a good idea, but that’s what it is. For us the next six weeks are very important.”