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Trent in turmoil, England mostly unaffected

Of all the emotional turmoil that football can put you through, there is something especially galling about seeing a player ruled out of a major tournament after picking up an injury in a warm-up game.
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Even before Trent Alexander-Arnold pinged his thigh when simply booting the ball downfield against Austria on Wednesday night, The Warm-Up had been watching through partially closed fingers any time any player – and let’s face it, it was usually Jack Grealish – went down in pain, gave any kind of audible scream or reached for an icepack.
Yesterday afternoon, Trent’s worst fears were confirmed as a quad tear ruled him out of action for six weeks, and therefore the Euros. It was particularly cruel coming after his much-publicised battle to work his way back into Gareth Southgate’s plans, and made the national meltdown surrounding that whole saga sadly redundant.
But put aside the player’s obvious disappointment and, let’s be honest, this was probably the most acceptable pre-tournament injury crisis to hit England. Not that we'd ever want to indulge in such a dubious practice - and in all honesty, The Warm-Up is unsure of the mechanism of how it would work in practice - but if you could have picked a player for this to happen to... well, the fourth-choice right-back, who until the Austria friendly hadn’t played for England for seven games, would have been pretty high on the list.
And at least Alexander-Arnold will avoid the hassle – now very firmly established as part of England’s major tournament tradition - of hobbling around the squad while patently unfit. Instead that honour falls to both Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire, which is nice.
This is a big personal setback for Trent, and a disappointment for fans of seeing exceptional young talents perform on the biggest stages. But there’s no way you can interpret it as a significant setback for England. And it could yet provide an unexpected opportunity for Jesse Lingard or James Ward-Prowse, with Southgate naming a replacement following the Romania friendly on Sunday.

Koeman avoids joining managerial merry-go-round

The managerial transfer market has rarely been as hectic as it has this past fortnight with Carlo Ancelotti, Antonio Conte and Massimiliano Allegri all the move and Mauricio Pochettino rumoured to be joining them.
One man staying firmly in place, somewhat surprisingly, is Ronald Koeman, after Barcelona president Joan Laporta confirmed yesterday that the club will keep him in place despite persistent suggestions that Xavi could be on his way back to the club following a difficult year for Barca.
And in a surprise move which is so heavily laden with symbolism it is collapsing under the oppressive pressure of its own weight, Jordi Cruyff is coming in as assistant sporting director.
"We will give continuity to the current contract that Ronald Koeman has," Laporta said in a statement on Thursday. "We are very satisfied because the talks have resulted in a unity of criteria for what has to be done during the season."
Xavi probably won’t be too disappointed. Maybe he will strike lucky and win the lottery in Qatar again.

Argentina honour Maradona

Lionel Messi wears a shirt with an image of Diego Maradona

Image credit: Getty Images

In the early hours of Friday morning, Argentina played their first match since the death of Diego Maradona. A statue was unveiled and Argentina entered the field of play wearing shirts which bore his image.
The World Cup qualifier against Chile didn’t quite go to plan, ending in a 1-1 draw, but No. 10 Lionel Messi did score a penalty for his 72nd international goal.

IN OTHER NEWS

Sergio Aguero seems like a pretty stand-up guy, as stories of his generosity to Manchester City’s staff before his departure merely underlined.
And now footage has emerged of the striker handing over his car to a City kit man after he won a raffle between staff members.
You have to say that’s lovely.

IN THE CHANNELS

It’s been a tough old season for Eden Hazard, who has struggled with his weight, suffered a string of injuries that would have daunted Darren Anderton, and prompted the most incredible sequence of television seen this or any other season when his giggles with his former team-mates after losing to Chelsea provoked an exceptional meltdown at El Chriniguito.
So arriving at the Belgium camp must have felt like clawing across the Sahara to reach an abundant oasis. A place where everyone respects and loves him, a country where TV presenters don’t weirdly rub their palms together methodically while doom-laded music plays in the background. A place, in short, where he can forget about his misery in Madrid.
Until, that is, Atletico Madrid’s Yannick Carrasco decided to interrupt an interview he was giving to remind Hazard which team won La Liga this season…
He’s genuinely fuming, isn’t he?

RETRO CORNER

Today The Warm-Up bids a fond farewell to a defining player in the modern game, with the news that Nicklas ‘Lord’ Bendtner has retired.
When stories emerged of a young striker who had broken all previous records for confidence on Arsenal’s internal personality testing, we knew we were in the presence of something special. And in his own way he delivered on that early promise. Not usually on the football pitch admittedly, but by contributing to football’s rich tapestry by becoming an ego-driven content factory – therefore somehow symbolic of the age.
He did also score the occasional goal, his most famous being the first on display here as he headed home within seconds of coming on as a substitute against Tottenham.

COMING UP

There’s more last-minute Euro 2020 revision for more of Europe’s biggest teams this evening as Spain face Portugal and Italy take on Czech Republic, to name but two.
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