Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has declared Ben White fit, insisting the defender was simply not selected for England’s last squad and urged the player to prove his doubters wrong.
Gareth Southgate’s 28-man squad for the Nations League double-header against Italy and Germany featured six centre-backs – Manchester United’s Harry Maguire, Manchester City’s John Stones, AC’s Fikayo Tomori Milan, Everton’s Conor Coady and Tottenham’s Eric Dier – but not White, who last played for the Three Lions in March.
White has often replaced the Gunners right-back this season, due to the budding partnership between Gabriel and William Saliba and, heading into a weekend clash with Brentford, Gunners boss Arteta has said his defender could use the snub with motivation.
“Yeah, he’s fit,” Arteta told London Colney, dismissing reports of a fitness issue. “He’s played in both positions and he’s been selected sometimes and not. I think having a versatile player to play at that level in both positions of centre-back and full-back is something that, in my opinion, every manager wishes.
“Especially when you go to a tournament where a lot can happen. It’s Gareth’s decision with his coaching staff. Whenever he gets the call, he’ll be ready.
“Look, Gareth is picking the best team he thinks they are at the moment. The team he’s picked for November is amazing. Anything we can do to help Ben, we try to do.
“I think Ben gives a lot of reasons to be selected. That’s all we can do.
White’s team-mate Gabriel Jesus suffered a similar fate this month after being left out of Brazil head coach Tite’s final squad, the last chosen before the World Cup.
As with White, Jesus has been advised by his manager to react on the pitch as they prepare for a London derby at Brentford Community Stadium.
“I do not have [been given a reason],” he added. “I’m going to have to convince the players to keep putting their heads down and accept their coaches’ decision not to join their national teams and give them even more reasons that it’s so obvious that they have to be selected.
“It’s the way the boys reacted and nothing else.”