The reason Gareth Southgate left Ben White out of last England squad | Football

Ben White has been in sensational form for Arsenal this season (Picture: Getty)

Ben White’s chances of playing for England at this summer’s European Championships look to be over after Gareth Southgate revealed the Arsenal defender had made himself unavailable for selection.

The 26-year-old hasn’t represented his country since leaving the 2022 World Cup prematurely with, at the time, the Three Lions boss citing ‘personal reasons’ for White’s decision to return to England.

White’s international exile has represented something of an ongoing mystery given his versatility and consistency for his club, where he has become an established component of Mikel Arteta’s back four.

Indeed, the former Brighton star’s performances for the Gunners were rewarded earlier on Thursday with a new, lucrative contract extension.

Southgate claimed he would have called White up ahead of the upcoming friendlies against Brazil and Spain were it not for the defender’s decision to render himself unavailable.

The story was different back in November, however, when the Three Lions boss claimed that, as far as he knew, White was willing to be selected.

Asked about leaving White out ahead of the fixtures against Malta and North Macedonia, Southgate replied: ‘I assume so.

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‘Ben’s been very solid for Arsenal. He is a different profile of full-back. He’s more of a centre-back playing at full-back really.

‘And he’s obviously doing a good job for his club, he’s just behind a couple of others in our reckoning.’

Probed on whether his non-selection is purely down to footballing reasons or if there was any lingering issue from his early World Cup departure, Southgate replied: ‘No, again we’ve got Kyle [Walker], Kieran [Trippier], we’ve got Trent [Alexander-Arnold], we’ve got Reece James.

‘It’s a position where we’ve got strength. As I said, there’s a couple of good young ones coming through.

Ben White has signed a new long-term contract with Arsenal

Ben White has signed a new long-term contract with Arsenal (Picture: Getty)

‘And, again, we’re on a good run and the defence is playing well. So that’s where we are.’

Speaking on Thursday, meanwhile, Southgate maintained that the door remained open for White with a view to forcing his way back into his plans ahead this summer’s tournament

‘We had a call from [Arsenal’s sporting director] Edu last week saying Ben didn’t want to be considered for England squads at the moment,’ said Southgate.

‘I spoke to him post-Qatar and there was reticence from his side. I don’t know why that is, but I respect that. I leave the door open because he’s a good player.

‘There is no issue between us at all and there’s also no issue with [assistant manager] Steve Holland, which has been mentioned in articles and I don’t like that.

‘I have to accept things are false about me, but I’m not prepared for that to happen to my coaching team. That is not the reason Ben is not with us.’


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