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Ben White: Arsenal player 'made himself unavailable for England' – Gareth Southgate

Ben White: Arsenal player 'made himself unavailable for England' – Gareth Southgate

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Southgate says White did not want to be considered for the England squad

England coach Gareth Southgate said he had “no problem” with Ben White after the Arsenal defender made himself unavailable for selection for upcoming friendlies this month.

Southgate said Arsenal sporting director Edu told him White did not want to be considered.

The 26-year-old has not been selected for England since the 2022 World Cup.

Southgate said: “I spoke to him after the Qatar match and there was reservation on his part. I don’t know the reason for that.”

White left the England squad for the World Cup in Qatar for personal reasons, with him reportedly unhappy and having a falling out with assistant coach Steve Holland.

“There is no problem between us at all, and there is no problem with Steve either, which is what was mentioned in the articles and I don't like that,” Southgate said.

“I have to accept that things are wrong for me, but I'm not ready for that to happen to my coaching team. That's not why Ben isn't with us.”

White has been in good form with Arsenal this season, making 39 appearances in all competitions, and signed a new four-year contract with the Gunners on Thursday.

The former Brighton man appeared in every Premier League match last season as Arsenal lost out on the title to treble winners Manchester City, but he has impressed even more in his role at right-back this season.

Although he will not participate in the two friendly matches in preparation for the European Nations Cup 2024 next March against Brazil and Belgium, Southgate said that “the door is wide open” for him to return.

he added:[White] He will be in this squad but he is not available for us and I have to focus on who can help us.

“It's clear he's in form. I can't sit here and say he doesn't deserve to be on the field.

He added: “It's a big shame. He's a player we took to the European Championship, and he's a player we took to the World Cup, and I spoke to him after Qatar because I wanted to choose him.”

“People have given me a lot of encouragement not to pick players in the past who weren't available. But I've always been able to talk them out of that story.

He added: “On this occasion, and due to the circumstances surrounding the number of infections and his decision to leave the long list, I must be more transparent.”

Asked if White was suggesting he would not play for England while Southgate was in charge, the Three Lions boss said: “I don't know the answer to that. I hope that's not the reason.”

Image source, Getty Images

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White has won four England caps since moving to Arsenal for a £50m fee in 2021.

“One of the people who cares the most”

“I know people say I don't like football,” White told The Telegraph earlier this month. “I come home and football isn't on my mind. I can just be a normal person, relax. [But] “When I'm here, it's intense.”

Club captain Martin Odegaard told White: “When you look at him from the outside, you might think he's someone who doesn't care much. But he's one of the people who cares more about his team and his team-mates.” “He's a warrior, a proper team player, and funny.”

analysis

Alex Howell, BBC Sport's football news correspondent

White's place in the England squad has been a subject of controversy since he left the training camp for the World Cup in Qatar in 2022.

When Southgate was asked about White not being included in the squad in November last year, he said he “assumed” White was available for selection but was “behind a couple of others”.

However, three months after the team's announcement, messaging around White from the England manager changed.

His ability to play at right-back and centre-back will be more important than ever, with Southgate only able to name 23 players in his final squad for the European Championship in Germany in the summer.

It is clear that the situation is complex as the player may have feelings about the lack of playing time for England. He made four appearances for England, all in friendlies, and did not feature in Qatar's first three matches before his exit.

White is a fierce competitor, but the view that the player lacks interest in football or loves the game is incorrect.

It's true that being a football player is not his full identity, he likes to do things unrelated to football when he's not in training.

What is clear is that White is playing the best football of his career and with Reece James injured alongside Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier, the depth at full-back is not what it once was for Southgate.

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