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Gareth Southgate reveals Arsenal defender Ben White rejected England call-up

:Headline: Gareth Southgate reveals Arsenal defender Ben White rejected England call-up:
England manager Gareth Southgate confirms that Arsenal defender Ben White made himself unavailable for selection for international friendlies against Brazil and Belgium this month.
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England manager Gareth Southgate has revealed that Arsenal defender Ben White made himself unavailable for selection for international friendlies against Brazil and Belgium this month.

The 26-year-old has been in impressive form for a Gunners side competing in a three-way Premier League title race and in the latter stages of the Champions League, chipping in with two goals and four assists in 39 appearances so far this season.

White, who has signed a new long-term contract at Arsenal, has made a seamless transition from centre-back to right-back since joining Arsenal in 2021 and has been ever-present under Mikel Arteta, featuring in all 38 Premier League games last season and missing just one of the club's 28 top-flight matches so far this term.

The defender's form has caught the eye of England boss Southgate, who has admitted that he would have called up the former Brighton & Hove Albion man if he had made himself available for selection.

White has earned four caps for England and was part of the squad that reached the Euro 2020 final, although the defender remained an unused substitute throughout the tournament.

Arsenal's No.4 withdrew from England's 2022 World Cup squad in Qatar for personal reasons amid reports of a fallout with assistant coach Steve Holland.

Southgate has since confirmed that Arsenal sporting director Edu got in touch to confirm White's decision to be left out of this month's squad, even though the "door was wide open" for him to return.

"We had a call from Edu last week saying Ben didn't want to be considered for England squads at the moment," Southgate said at a press conference on Thursday. "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 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."

"[White] would be in this squad but he's not available to us and I have to focus on who can help us," Southgate added. "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.

"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."

Asked whether White is indicating he will not represent England while Southgate remains in charge, the Three Lions boss said: "I don't know the answer to that. I hope that's not the reason."

Southgate has selected a total of eight defenders for his England squad, including Everton's Jarrad Branthwaite who has received his first senior call-up.

England will face Brazil at Wembley Stadium on March 23 before playing host to Belgium just three days later.

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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CManchester CityMan City38287396346291
2Arsenal38285591296289
3Liverpool382410486414582
4Aston Villa382081076611568
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs382061274611366
6Chelsea381891177631463
7Newcastle UnitedNewcastle381861485622360
8Manchester UnitedMan Utd38186145758-160
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham381410146074-1452
10Crystal Palace381310155758-149
11Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton381212145562-748
12Bournemouth38139165467-1348
13Fulham38138175561-647
14Wolverhampton WanderersWolves38137185065-1546
15Everton38139164051-1140
16Brentford38109195665-939
17Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest3899204967-1832
RLuton TownLuton3868245285-3326
RBurnley3859244178-3724
RSheffield UnitedSheff Utd38372835104-6916
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