Gareth Southgate has claimed that Kieran Trippier has improved considerably as a defender since leaving Tottenham and insisted that the right-back’s qualities are hugely underestimated.

Trippier’s defending was a source of frustration for some Spurs fans in the defender’s final season at the club and not too many complained when Tottenham decided to sell him to Atletico Madrid for £21.7m back in 2019.

While the 30-year-old’s quality on the ball and delivery has never been in question, he has proven since his move to Spain that he is also capable of putting in solid defensive displays. 

Trippier played a valued part in Atletico’s march to the title this season and was handed the nod to start at left-back by Gareth Southgate ahead of both Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw in England’s European Championship opener against Croatia on Sunday. 

There were some who questioned Southgate’s decision to start the former Spurs man but the England boss insisted that Trippier has become a ‘defensive animal’ in the Spanish capital.

He told The Evening Standard: “What Kieran has, firstly, is hugely underestimated.

“I think people are still seeing the lad that was at Spurs a couple of years ago and not the defensive animal that has grown at Atletico Madrid, trusted by one of the best and most successful coaches in the world [Diego Simeone].

“He gets his distances right on cover, he’s good one-v-one to stop crosses, and his talking is really good. We had a back four, there was always going to have changes in it on Sunday and we felt that communication, that organisation was an important part.

“We’ll look at every opponent, we’ll look at our team for every game. I think we have to have flexibility.”

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