Our Brazilian metamorphosis continues to gather pace.
A week after news emerged that Arsenal’s Seleção contingent would not feature over the upcoming international break, Ben White endured a similar fate as he was omitted from the England squad for the final round of UEFA Nations Leagues fixtures.
The Three Lions’ snub is just the latest setback for a player Gareth Southgate has often overlooked in national team selections. White also failed to play a single minute at the European Championships last summer (following a belated call-up to replace the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold) or indeed in the 10-game qualification process for the Qatar World Cup.
Although apparently out of favor, international exclusion does not reflect White’s recent club form, where he has been a standout member of the Arsenal backline. The 24-year-old coped well with tricky customers like Wilfried Zaha even in an unnatural right-back role and has still managed to use his progressive tendencies to influence offensive proceedings.
Meanwhile, a league-best tackle-success rate of 78.6% against those who have attempted to dribble past him (must have faced at least 10 opponents) underlines his contribution to the Gunners’ staunch defensive unit.
The latest England omission is just a bump in the road for future Arsenal and Three Lions star Ben White.
Perhaps White can draw comfort from the knowledge that, despite England’s precarious position in Group A3 and the threat of relegation, the Nations League is widely held in low esteem. There are certainly more important affairs to consider on both the club and international scene.
Furthermore, the inclusion of several domestic underperformers in the 28-man squad indicates the manager is conscious of resting both key players and those contending with fitness issues ahead of a heavily congested autumn schedule.
To his credit, it was an ill-timed hamstring injury that postponed White’s senior bow earlier this year and, in March, Southgate spoke of how it is “easy to picture” where the £50m man would fit into his plans. The concession that he was “unfortunate” not to earn a call-up on previous occasions suggests White’s current peripheral status will soon change and that he has every chance of being on the plane for the gulf state in November.
Arsenal will likely welcome the omission as they now have extra time to rehabilitate White- who has reportedly battled “hip and knee” discomfort in recent weeks- and ensure he is fully prepared for the nine-game marathon to come next month, which includes a difficult tie with Liverpool as well as the small matter of the North London Derby.
Regular injury concerns and another wait for a first England cap will understandably cause White immense frustration. But if he can keep up the good work, his international dream will soon be realized.