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Ben White: Gareth Southgate says Arsenal defender asked to be left out by England and Euros place 'difficult'

White signed a new Arsenal deal which runs to 2028 on Thursday - but asked England officials not to include him in the latest Three Lions squad for friendlies with Brazil and Belgium; White left the 2022 Qatar World Cup early due to personal reasons and hasn't played for his country since

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Sky Sports News senior reporter Rob Dorsett takes a closer a closer at Ben White's request to be left out of the latest England squad and what that may mean for his international future.

Gareth Southgate has said in-form Arsenal defender Ben White asked not to be selected for England and, while the door is open, it would now be "difficult" for him to make the Euros squad.

The defender has been in outstanding form this season for the Premier League title-challengers and on Thursday it was announced he has signed a new long-term deal to stay at Arsenal.

However, the 26-year-old was once again absent when the England squad to face Brazil and Belgium was announced later that day. He hasn't represented his country since leaving the 2022 Qatar World Cup early.

Southgate revealed in a press conference after naming his squad that White had asked not to feature in the March friendlies. It is a stance which has frustrated the England boss, given the quality Southgate feels White could bring to the national team.

"On form, I can't sit here and say [White] doesn't deserve to be in," said Southgate. "[Technical director] John McDermott had a call from [Arsenal sporting director] Edu last week to say Ben didn't want to be considered for England squads at this time.

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Football writers Sam Blitz and Pete Smith take a closer look at the form of Ben White and why he has earned himself a new contract at Arsenal.

"That's a great shame, he's a player I really like, he's a player we took to the Euros when he was at Brighton, to the World Cup.

"I spoke to him post-Qatar, because I wanted to pick him. There was clearly reticence from his side, I don't know fully why that is.

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"But I have to respect that, I want to leave the door open for him, because he's a good player and he can make a difference for England - but he's not available to us, so the only other thing I would say is there is no issue between us, at all.

"There's no issue with [England coach] Steve Holland, because that has been mentioned in articles and I don't like that. People can talk about me and I have to say things get said about me, which are false, and you have to stomach that for whatever reason in this role.

"But I'm not prepared for that to happen to a key member of my coaching team. That is not the reason Ben is unavailable for selection."

England's March squad

Goalkeepers: Sam Johnstone (Crystal Palace), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal).

Defenders: Jarrad Branthwaite (Everton), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Ezri Konsa (Aston Villa), Harry Maguire (Man Utd), John Stones (Man City), Kyle Walker (Man City).

Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Ajax), James Maddison (Tottenham), Declan Rice (Arsenal).

Forwards: Jarrod Bowen (West Ham), Phil Foden (Man City), Anthony Gordon (Newcastle), Harry Kane (Bayern Munich), Cole Palmer (Chelsea), Marcus Rashford (Man United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ivan Toney (Brentford), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa).

Asked whether White could still go to Euro 2024 if his stance changed before the tournament in Germany, Southgate said: "I want that door wide open.

"He would be in this squad, but he's not available for us, so I have to focus on those who are with us."

However, the England boss went on to discuss the challenge White would face to dislodge players who have always been available - although Southgate admitted it is not the first time a player has turned down his call-up.

"He's not the first player who hasn't wanted to be available for selection at certain times.

"I've always tried to protect those players, I always want the door to be left open, even though on lots of those occasions I get it in the neck for not picking them.

"People don't know the reasons, but sometimes as a leader you have to take the flak for others and allow them time to come through.

"Sometimes we've had young players who haven't felt comfortable coming away with England, when I was with the U21s, and when they get older they get more comfortable.

"There can be all sorts of reasons. I think we should respect that, he's clearly playing very well and has been for a long time, but he's not available to me.

"You always have to find a different solution. The very first squad I picked, I had a player call and say 'thank you, but no'. You just have to move on.

"That's the reality of the job, there's lots of things outside of your control, you can't always share the detail of these things but that's the way it has to be.

"Clearly, to come in for June now would be difficult - others will have been in the squads and playing regularly. When you have a situation like that, you have to assess those who have been on the journey all the way through.

"We've done that down the years with different situations."

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England manager Gareth Southgate hails the recent form of Jarrad Branthwaite and Anthony Gordon as reasons ton why he has included them in his latest squad.

Analysis: A sad scenario for White to be out of England squad

Sky Sports News senior reporter Rob Dorsett:

"After more than 12 months of speculation surrounding Ben White's absence from the England squad, the England manager has broken his silence. He knew he'd be criticised if White's name wasn't on the list, so he decided to cut that criticism off at the pass.

"In a nutshell, Gareth Southgate said of White's international exile: 'It's not my decision'.

"He went further. He said it will be difficult for White to be included in the squad for the Euros in the summer - although Southgate says the door is open.

"For this to be the situation with arguably England's most in-form right back right now (although it's a close-run-thing with Kyle Walker), a right-back playing weekly for the Premier League leaders, at a time when four English full backs are absent through injury - is clearly a subject of real frustration for Southgate.

"It all began when White left the England base in Al Wakrah in Qatar in the middle of the World Cup in December 2022. Newspaper stories followed, suggesting White had fallen out with Southgate's assistant, Steve Holland - stories which Southgate has now, finally, firmly dismissed,

"But it is clearly a very sad scenario - both for White himself, and for England - that a player with such talent won't be seen on an international stage anytime soon. Southgate himself called it 'a great shame'.

"England expect to be challenging for the European Championship trophy in June and July. Someone who would otherwise be a real asset for the side, won't be involved."

Euro 2024 key dates

UEFA European Championship Men's Draw

Remaining qualifying dates
March 21, 2024: play-off semi-finals
March 26, 2024: play-off finals

Final tournament
June 14, 2024: Euro 2024 opening game, Allianz Arena (Munich)
June 30 - July 2: Round of 16
July 5-6: Quarter-finals
July 9-10, 2024: Semi-finals
July 14, 2024: Euro 2024 final, Olympiastadion (Berlin)

England's Euro 2024 fixtures

England Group

Sunday June 16 - Group C: Serbia vs England (Arena AufSchalke, Gelsenkirchen - kick-off 8pm UK time)

Thursday June 20 - Group C: Denmark vs England (Waldstadion, Frankfurt - kick-off 5pm UK time)

Tuesday June 25 - Group C: England vs Slovenia (RheinEnergieStadion, Cologne - kick-off 8pm UK time)

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