Monday , May 20 2024

Ben White: Gareth Southgate says Arsenal right-back asked to be left out of England squad – but could feature at Euro 2024 | Football News

Gareth Southgate has said Ben White could play for England at the Euros this summer – despite the Arsenal defender requesting not to be included in the latest squad.

The right-back has been in outstanding form this season for the Premier League title-challengers and on Thursday it was announced he has signed a new long-term deal to stay at Arsenal.

However, the 26-year-old was once again absent when the England squad to face Brazil and Belgium was announced later that day. He hasn’t represented his country since leaving the 2022 Qatar World Cup early.

Southgate revealed in a press conference after naming his squad that White had asked not to feature in the March friendlies. It is a stance which has frustrated the England boss, given the quality Southgate feels White could bring to the national team.

“On form, I can’t sit here and say [White] doesn’t deserve to be in,” said Southgate. “[Technical director] John McDermott had a call from [Arsenal sporting director] Edu last week to say Ben didn’t want to be considered for England squads at this time.

“That’s a great shame, he’s a player I really like, he’s a player we took to the Euros when he was at Brighton, to the World Cup.

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Football writers Sam Blitz and Pete Smith take a closer look at the form of Ben White and why he has earned himself a new contract at Arsenal.

“I spoke to him post-Qatar, because I wanted to pick him. There was clearly reticence from his side, I don’t know fully why that is.

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“But I have to respect that, I want to leave the door open for him, because he’s a good player and he can make a difference for England – but he’s not available to us, so the only other thing I would say is there is no issue between us, at all.

“There’s no issue with [England coach] Steve Holland, because that has been mentioned in articles and I don’t like that. People can talk about me and I have to say things get said about me, which are false, and you have to stomach that for whatever reason in this role.

“But I’m not prepared for that to happen to a key member of my coaching team. That is not the reason Ben is unavailable for selection.”

England’s March squad

Goalkeepers: Sam Johnstone (Crystal Palace), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal).

Defenders: Jarrad Branthwaite (Everton), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Ezri Konsa (Aston Villa), Harry Maguire (Man Utd), John Stones (Man City), Kyle Walker (Man City).

Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Ajax), James Maddison (Tottenham), Declan Rice (Arsenal).

Forwards: Jarrod Bowen (West Ham), Phil Foden (Man City), Anthony Gordon (Newcastle), Harry Kane (Bayern Munich), Cole Palmer (Chelsea), Marcus Rashford (Man United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ivan Toney (Brentford), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa).

Asked whether White could still go to Euro 2024 if his stance changed before the tournament in Germany, Southgate said: “I want that door wide open.

“He would be in this squad, but he’s not available for us, so I have to focus on those who are with us.”

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However, the England boss went on to discuss the challenge White would face to dislodge players who have always been available – although Southgate admitted it is not the first time a player has turned down his call-up.

“He’s not the first player who hasn’t wanted to be available for selection at certain times.

“I’ve always tried to protect those players, I always want the door to be left open, even though on lots of those occasions I get it in the neck for not picking them.

“People don’t know the reasons, but sometimes as a leader you have to take the flak for others and allow them time to come through.

“Sometimes we’ve had young players who haven’t felt comfortable coming away with England, when I was with the U21s, and when they get older they get more comfortable.

“There can be all sorts of reasons. I think we should respect that, he’s clearly playing very well and has been for a long time, but he’s not available to me.

“You always have to find a different solution. The very first squad I picked, I had a player call and say ‘thank you, but no’. You just have to move on.

“That’s the reality of the job, there’s lots of things outside of your control, you can’t always share the detail of these things but that’s the way it has to be.

“Clearly, to come in for June now would be difficult – others will have been in the squads and playing regularly. When you have a situation like that, you have to assess those who have been on the journey all the way through.

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“We’ve done that down the years with different situations.”

Euro 2024 key dates

UEFA European Championship Men's Draw

Remaining qualifying dates
March 21, 2024: play-off semi-finals
March 26, 2024: play-off finals

Final tournament
June 14, 2024: Euro 2024 opening game, Allianz Arena (Munich)
June 30 – July 2: Round of 16
July 5-6: Quarter-finals
July 9-10, 2024: Semi-finals
July 14, 2024: Euro 2024 final, Olympiastadion (Berlin)

England’s Euro 2024 fixtures

England Group

Sunday June 16 – Group C: Serbia vs England (Arena AufSchalke, Gelsenkirchen – kick-off 8pm UK time)

Thursday June 20 – Group C: Denmark vs England (Waldstadion, Frankfurt – kick-off 5pm UK time)

Tuesday June 25 – Group C: England vs Slovenia (RheinEnergieStadion, Cologne – kick-off 8pm UK time)

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