Arsenal defender Ben White is reportedly set to miss out on Gareth Southgate’s first England squad since the World Cup in Qatar after Mikel Arteta declared his availability for international selection. The Three Lions boss is set to name his squad for Euro 2024 qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine on Thursday afternoon but it’s understood White will miss out – in a call that will divide opinion.
The decision comes just months after the 25-year-old left camp mid-tournament in Qatar in November due to personal reasons which remain undisclosed.
It had been reported at the time that White allegedly didn’t see eye-to-eye with England coach Steve Holland and was distant from some of his team-mates in camp, although those suggestions are unconfirmed.
England, Arsenal and the player have refused to disclose details on the situation but Gunners boss Arteta declared earlier this week that White was ready for selection if called upon.
The Mirror are now reporting that White will be left out of Southgate’s squad which is likely to spark further conversation about his international prospects under the current Three Lions manager.
That’s particularly given White has been in fine form at club level with Premier League leaders Arsenal having recently netted in the dramatic 3-2 win over Bournemouth.
White has been a staple for the Gunners this season and has excelled as a makeshift full-back, forming an admirable partnership with Bukayo Saka on the right flank.
He has formed part of the joint-second best defence in the Premier League and has continued to be called upon by Arteta since the World Cup debacle.
When quizzed on the alleged bust-up between White and Holland ahead of England’s World Cup quarter-final defeat to France, Southgate said: “What I’ve been shown was alleged and there was another word that was used [in the article].
“I think by commenting on the story I could be giving it any form of credibility, really. We explained why Ben left the camp and I think it’s important that that is respected, really.”
Speaking ahead of Arsenal’s Europa League knockout clash with Sporting, Arteta was asked whether he feared there would be any lingering issues from White’s withdrawal at the World Cup.
He responded: “As far as I am concerned, no. He has been in very good form, available for every single match and has been performing well for us. He is available for us so for sure he will be available for the England squad.”
England are well-stocked in defence with Kyle Walker expected to continue playing having previously hinted he was considering international retirement.
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Reece James are also available for selection despite difficult individual campaigns with Liverpool and Chelsea, respectively.
Kyle Walker-Peters, who had been in contention for the World Cup prior to injury, has also been impressing for relegation-battling Southampton.
In attack, there will also be eyes on Brentford frontman Ivan Toney as he awaits the outcome of an FA investigation into his alleged breaches of gambling rules
Bees boss Thomas Frank believes Toney’s form has given Southgate something to think about.
“If you look at the performances I don’t think you can get past him, but I know there are different types and it depends on what kind of strikers he [Southgate] wants,” Frank said of his striker.
“But Ivan has shown on goals and assists – two pretty good numbers to be high on – and performances that he is the number two behind Harry [Kane].”