Ben White England snub: why Arsenal star has turned his back on Three Lions and Gareth Southgate comments

Ben White has made himself unavailable for the England team at this time. Ben White has made himself unavailable for the England team at this time.
Ben White has made himself unavailable for the England team at this time.
Many eyebrows were raised by Ben White’s omission from the recent England squad

England manager Gareth Southgate has revealed that Ben White chose to make himself ‘unavailable’ for Three Lions selection at this time.

The news comes as a huge blow to the team during a month where they are without a number of their main right back options and intensifies the club vs country row that has often surrounded footballers in years gone by.

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White is currently in the middle of what is arguably his best individual campaign so far and he has been a near ever present for the Gunners this term with 28 appearances in the league - scoring two goals and providing an impressive five assists for the table-toppers.

Southgate, himself, admitted that White would be in the current England squad on merit, and the news only adds to the enigma surrounding the right back - who once admitted that he barely ever watched football growing up and still doesn’t now.

But what did Southgate say in his recent England press conference about White, and why has the footballer chosen to distance himself from the England team in the run-up to Euro 2024. Here’s all you need to know.

Why has Ben White made himself unavailable for England?

Ben White has enjoyed a rapid rise through the football pyramid in recent years. The Brighton academy graduate played in all four league’s from League Two upwards and rose to prominence with loan spells at Newport County, Peterborough United and Leeds.

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After three successful years, he progressed into the Brighton team and his 36 appearances were enough to earn him a spot in Southgate’s Euro 2020 squad.

At the time of his call up he claimed he cried tears of joy. He told Sky Sports in 2021: “I put the phone down, rang my mum straight away, sat down there, cried, mum was crying, mum, my dad, had all my sisters there and I just sat and cried for about an hour.I couldn't really believe it and I don't think it's settled in yet.”

The defender was unused at the tournament as England reached the final, but made four friendly appearances in two years as he remained a regular fixture in the squad.

After his move to Arsenal, White was again picked for the World Cup in 2022, but surprisingly left the group in Qatar due to personal reasons that were never publicly disclosed by White or the England national team.

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Many outlets including the Daily Mail have speculated that White’s decision to leave was prompted by a fall-out with Southgate’s assistant manager Steve Holland.

Reports claim that Holland didn’t think White was taking information seriously enough during a team meeting in Qatar which led to an angry exchange as White left the camp early. 

How has Gareth Southgate responded to Ben White’s England snub?

Gareth Southgate has categorically denied claims of a rift between Steve Holland and Ben White, and claims that he has no idea why White no longer wants to play for England. 

He told reporters: “I spoke to him post Qatar and there was reticence from his side. I don’t know why that is. There is no issue between us at all and there’s no issue with Steve, which has been mentioned in articles and I don’t like that.

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“I have to accept these 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.”

At this current time, it appears increasingly unlikely that White will be involved at Euro 2024, particularly if Reece James, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier return to fitness to compete with Kyle Walker.

However, Southgate has kept the door open to White, who is also capable of playing centre back. The England boss added: “(White) would be in this squad but he’s not available to us and I have to focus on who can help us. Clearly on form. I can’t sit here and say he doesn’t deserve to be in. 

“It is a great shame. He is a player we took to the Euros, a player we took to the World Cup and I spoke to him post-Qatar because I wanted to pick him.

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“People have given me a lot of stick for not picking players in the past who haven’t made themselves available. But I’ve always been able to keep them out of that story.

“On this occasion, because of the circumstances around the number of injuries and his decision to come off the long list I’ve got to be more transparent.”

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