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Ben White has told England he doesn't want to play, Gareth Southgate reveals, after the Arsenal defender left the World Cup in Qatar for mysterious “personal reasons” ahead of reports of a rift with Steve Holland.

Ben White has told England he doesn't want to play, Gareth Southgate reveals, after the Arsenal defender left the World Cup in Qatar for mysterious “personal reasons” ahead of reports of a rift with Steve Holland.

  • Gareth Southgate has announced his 25-man squad for England's friendly match next March
  • The England coach then revealed that Ben White had asked not to be taken into consideration
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Gareth Southgate revealed on Thursday that Ben White turned down the opportunity to play for England.

The England coach wanted to call up White to participate in the friendlies against Brazil and Belgium, but Arsenal coach Edu told him that the defender did not want to be selected.

White caused a stir when he left the England camp midway through the 2022 World Cup campaign in Qatar. There were suggestions that this was due to a row with Southgate's assistant Steve Holland, although the England coach denied this yesterday.

Southgate said he did not know why White did not want to join, and confirmed that Arsenal had been informed of their decision to announce the news.

There is now major doubt over White's international future, although Southgate has been at pains to say the door is not closed for the versatile defender.

Gareth Southgate has revealed that Ben White asked not to be taken into consideration for England's friendlies
The England coach announced his 25-man squad that will face Brazil and Belgium

“We had a call from Edu last week to say that Ben did not want to be considered for the England squad at this time,” said Southgate, who accepts that the 26-year-old is unlikely to change his mind before this summer's European Championships. .

For me, this is a huge shame. He's a player we took to the European Championships when he was at Brighton, and we took him to the World Cup.

I spoke to him after Qatar because I was keen to choose him and there was clear reservation on his part.

“There's obviously a reason.” But I don't know the full reason. I want to leave the door open for him because he is a good player and can make a difference for England. I also have to say that there was no problem with Steve Holland. He mentioned it and I don't like it.

“I have to accept that false things are being said about me.

“But I'm not prepared for that to happen to a key member of my coaching team because that's not the reason why Ben is not available for selection.”

White, who yesterday signed a new four-year contract with Arsenal, is now likely to face a backlash from opposition fans, and Southgate said: “In those situations I tried to protect the players.” This is clearly impossible at this stage.

“Because the timing…if I don’t choose it on the form (people will wonder why).” So I don't think it would be right not to mention the situation we're in. We have made it clear to Arsenal that we will announce this. If you make a decision like this, you must stick to it. But like I said, I want to keep the door open. I don't want there to be a backlash. But I understand that this can happen.

Ben White's exit from the World Cup came after a huge row with Steve Holland, according to reports
Hollande and White reportedly fell out in Qatar
Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite has been called up for the first time to the first team
White signed a new contract with Arsenal until 2028, with the option to extend for an additional year

Southgate called up Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite and Newcastle star Anthony Gordon for the first time. Brentford striker Ivan Toney and Liverpool defender Joe Gomez have been called up. However, Kalvin Phillips has been left out after struggling at Manchester City and now at West Ham on loan.

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Southgate said: “Calvin knows what we think. The good version of him is an important player for us and that's why we backed him. Unfortunately, his form was not good enough. He has the attributes to come back strong and we are keen for him to do that.”

Meanwhile, Southgate has informed the FA that he wants to postpone any attempts to extend his contract until the end of Euro 2024. The 53-year-old's contract expires at the end of the tournament and the FA are keen for him to stay.

“We had to sit down and think about it at the end of the tournament. We stopped any discussions because I think if we had sat down and signed a new contract before the tournament, everyone would have said,” he said. You have to prove yourself before you sign.”