March 19, 2024

Arsenal’s Ben White defended over ‘strange’ decision to snub England | Football | Sport

Former Newcastle and Tottenham midfielder Jermaine Jenas has come to the defence of Ben White over his ‘strange’ decision to turn down an England call-up. Jenas reckons Arsenal defender may be thinking “What’s the point in me going?” as he tabled a new theory about White’s decision.

White was expected to be picked for England’s friendly matches against Brazil and Belgium, potentially boosting his chances for a spot in Euro 2024. Particularly with other right-backs like Reece James, Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold all sidelined due to injuries.

But England boss Gareth Southgate shared that Edu, Arsenal’s sporting director, informed the Three Lions about White’s decision to snub a call-up. The Brazilian told John McDermott, the FA’s technical director, that the former Brighton star won’t be available as Arsenal gear up for a hectic end to the season with hopes of Premier League and Champions League success.

Jenas suggested that White’s decision could be influenced by his successful stint with Arsenal without being chosen to represent his country. Another theory put forward by the pundit is that White might believe he won’t get any playing time.

“It is strange,” Jenas told the Daily Mail. “I think not everybody’s patriotic, and I think we have to accept that. I think Ben has his own reasons why he feels it’s best for him to not be selected for England. 

“For all we know, him not being selected with England has such a positive impact on his club career, and he wants to focus on that. Not everybody’s the same in football. We like to kind of pigeonhole players like, ‘You’ve got to fight for your country.’

“It might be a footballing reason. It might be like, ‘What’s the point in me going if I’m not going to play?'”

White has not featured for England since leaving the Three Lions World Cup camp early in 2022. The 26-year-old reportedly had a disagreement with coach Steve Holland.

Southgate didn’t guess why White made his choice but said he didn’t try to change his mind. “I’m not able to articulate that,” the England manager stated.

“You’d have to speak to him or Arsenal to get an understanding of that. There have been players over the years in my time who didn’t want to be available. I’ve had that since we’ve been here. It’s not the only time [a player has turned down a call up].”

“For me, England was the pinnacle. Did I enjoy every moment with England? No. Were there moments where you thought ‘here we go, into the lions’ den’ if you like? Yes. But I always wanted to challenge myself and test myself. And the things I regret in my life are the things that I’ve not had a go at, not the things that I’ve failed at. For me, it was always the ultimate.”

“But, I wasn’t at a club going for the league title, or in the last couple of rounds of the Champions League. I can’t speculate what’s behind it.”


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