Gareth Southgate insists Ben White has an England future despite the Arsenal defender’s absence from his latest squad.
Whilst Aaron Ramsdale and Bukayo Saka continue to receive call-ups from Gareth Southgate, fellow Arsenal international Ben White wasn’t included in the England manager’s latest squad for the March break.
White had previously pulled out of the winter World Cup early, with the reasons for that decision never clarified.
Since then, White has continued to be one of the better right-backs in the Premier League, helping Arsenal to lead the division. Yet that hasn’t been recognised with another England call-up.
This latest absence sparked speculation that White’s relationship with the national team could be in trouble.
But speaking to the media after the squad announcement, Southgate suggested White still has a future with England.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Southgate said. “We like him. We’re interested to see whether at some point he ends up back at centre-back as well, because he’s got some really good attributes within that.”
Though there could be more to the story, it’s very possible Southgate is telling the truth, and he’s simply selected the right-backs he thinks are best suited to his England team.
Right-back is a position where England are blessed with talent, and even if White has outperformed most of the alternatives at club level this season, he doesn’t have the international experience of someone like Kyle Walker or Kieran Trippier.
But if Southgate is hoping Arsenal are suddenly going to start using White at centre-back on a regular basis, he’s likely going to end up disappointed.
The defender is doing well on the right, and Arsenal have Gabriel Magalhaes and William Saliba as their settled centre-back partnership.
You’d imagine White’s only appearances in the middle from now on will be due to injury or rotation. It’s certainly hard to see Saliba dropping out of the first-choice side.