Gareth Southgate fears Ben White faces ‘backlash’ over England snub | Football

Ben White has turned down the opportunity to play for England (Picture: Getty)

Gareth Southgate insists he was left with no option but to go public with Ben White’s decision to snub an England recall and fears the Arsenal defender will be met with a ‘backlash’ as a consequence.

As a consequence of his outstanding form for the the Premier League leaders, the Three Lions boss had hoped to reward White with a place in his squad ahead of the upcoming friendlies against Spain and Brazil.

White, who hasn’t featured for his country since his premature exit from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, spurned the opportunity to represent his country and will now enjoy a two-week break before the domestic resumption.

Southgate confirmed Arsenal were aware of his intention to go publish with White’s decision but insists he remains in the dark as the full reason behind the 26-year-old’s rationale.

‘In these situations I’ve tried to protect players,’ Southgate said. ‘Clearly that is impossible at this point [with White].

‘Because the timing of asking to come off the long list and the fact that … I don’t have huge credibility but there would be none if I didn’t pick him on form.

‘I don’t think it would be right not to state the situation we’re in. We’ve explained to Arsenal we were going to do that. And if you make a decision like that, you do have to stand by it.

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‘I don’t want there to be a backlash. I understand we’re in a situation where that could happen.

‘For me, the shame is that he’s a player I like. I would have liked to have picked him. But it’s not an option that’s open to me. I completely respect it.

‘I haven’t spoken to him since this decision because I think it would be a similar conversation to the last one I had with him after Qatar.

‘I could sense a reticence there which I felt I should back away from. I think it’s for him now.

‘You’d have to speak to him or Arsenal to get an understanding. For me, England was the pinnacle.

‘But I wasn’t at a club going for the league title or in the last couple of rounds of the Champions League.Everybody’s wired differently. There’s clearly a reason. But I don’t know the full reason.’

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