Southgate Reveals In Form Defender Did Not Want England Call Up

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Plenty of fans on Thursday were patiently waiting on that evening’s European action, but England manager Gareth Southgate also announced his squad for the friendlies against Brazil and Belgium later this month.

Whilst Newcastle United’s Anthony Gordon and Everton’s Jarrad Branthwaite received their first senior call ups, Brentford’s Ivan Toney was also recalled having now completed his eight month ban for breaching FA betting rules, but one player making plenty of headlines following the announcement is Arsenal defender Ben White.

The 26 year old was last selected by his country for the 2022 World Cup out in Qatar, but he left that squad for ‘personal reasons’ amidst rumours of a falling out with assistant coach Steve Holland, that had left him feeling unhappy in the group.

Southgate revealed that he would have been in this squad, had it not been for the fact that the player himself did not want to be considered for contention, and he insisted he had ‘no issue’ with that when informed by Arsenal’s sporting director Edu.

Southgate went on to state that having spoken to the player after Qatar, he knew that there was some reticence from him, but he did not know the exact reasons for that, however, he did complete dismiss the suggestions that there had been a fall out with his assistant.

“There is no issue between us at all and there’s also no issue with Steve, 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.”

With 39 appearances to his name for manager Mikel Arteta across all competitions in the 2023/24 campaign, he is in fine form for his club again and would be a natural call up option in normal circumstances, and that form actually saw him sign a new four year contract extension on Thursday as well.

And whilst Southgate more than accepts that his form merit’s his place in the squad, and although the ‘door was wide open’ for him to return to the national fold again at some point in the future, at the moment the 53 year old has his hands tied as he has to honour the wishes of the player.

Given the current defensive injury situation in the group, White’s versatility would have been a great bonus for Southgate, but we will simply have to see what the future brings.

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