Why has Ben White gone home? Reason England defender has left World Cup squad in Qatar

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The 25-year-old has left England’s training base in Al Wakrah to return home

England have reached the final 16 of the World Cup in Qatar following their 3-0 win over rivals Wales in the final group stage fixture. A first match triumph over Iran saw them jump to the top of the table and despite only drawing with the USA, Gareth Southgate’s squad remained at the top and will now meet Africa Cup of Nations winners Senegal in the last 16.

However, as England prepare for their knockout matches, they will be without a member of the original 26-man squad. Arsenal defender Ben White has left the England camp and is not expected to return to the Middle East due to ‘personal reasons’. White was not selected for the first two games against Iran and the United States and then missed England’s win over Wales due to illness.

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Here is all we know about Ben White’s departure from the England camp...

Who is Ben White?

Born in Poole, White began his junior career with Southampton and Brighton and Hove Albion. He made his senior debut for the club in an EFL Cup match in 2016 and went on to be loaned out to Newport County, Peterborough and Leeds United before joining Arsenal in 2021.

White first made his debut for the Gunners in August 2021 and this season, he has started all 14 Premier League games, helping his club to reach the top of the table before the Christmas break.

He was named in England’s provisional 33-man squad for the UEFA Euro 2020 but was subsequently left out of the confirmed tournament squad. He made his England debut, however, in June 2021 during a friendly against Austria, replacing Jack Grealish in the second half.

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Ben White for England in friendly against Switzerland in March 2022Ben White for England in friendly against Switzerland in March 2022
Ben White for England in friendly against Switzerland in March 2022 | Getty Images

What has been said?

A statement from the England camp has said: “Ben White has left England’s training base in Al Wakrah and returned home for personal reasons. The Arsenal defender is not expected to return to the squad for the remainder of the tournament. We ask that the player’s privacy is respected at this moment in time.”

Arsenal then tweeted, saying: “We’re all with you, Ben.”

Can Gareth Southgate replace Ben White?

Southgate will not call up a replacement for the 25-year-old as it is now too late into the competition to add any new members of the squad. White has primarily played a central defence position and the Three Lions’ boss’ first-choice pairing for this has been Harry Maguire and John Stones, with Conor Coady and Eric Dier the most likely back-ups.

Additionally, White has also featured as right-back for the Gunners this season but with Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold all in the squad, Southgate will have little to fear when it comes to selection options.

When is England’s next game?

Harry Kane and co will take on Senegal in their last 16 fixture on Sunday 4 December, with kick-off scheduled for 7pm GMT. The match is set to be shown on ITV, with many England fans already fearful of the ‘ITV Curse’. England’s two wins in the group stage came when the fixtures were shown on the BBC meanwhile their disappointing draw was aired on ITV. Since 1998, England have played 28 times live on ITV in major tournaments, with a win rate of 21.5%

Fans who are unable to watch the action live or on TV can also stream the fixture through the ITVX. Viewers must sign up for a free account in order to watch the action.

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