Brighton and Hove Albion centre-back Ben White has been called up to the England squad for this summer’s European Championship in place of the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The Liverpool right back picked up a thigh injury in the 1-0 win over Austria and was forced to withdraw from the 26-man squad, and England manager Gareth Southgate was keen to take as much time as possible to consider his replacement.
White started Sunday’s 1-0 win over Romania alongside fellow hopefuls Ben Godfrey and James Ward-Prowse, while Jesse Lingard and Ollie Watkins also featured, and England confirmed on their official website that the young centre-back did enough to book his spot in the final squad.
Southgate was impressed with the 23-year-old’s performances during the warm-up friendlies and felt finding more cover for Manchester United centre back Harry Maguire, who continues to struggle with an ankle ligament injury, was the most pressing issue in his squad.
The decision to call up White has been met with some confusion from fans, not because the young defender doesn’t deserve it, but because most had expected Southampton midfielder Ward-Prowse to get the nod.
England do not have too many options in central midfield and Sunday’s game showed that Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson, who played his first 45 minutes since undergoing groin surgery in February, still has a lot of work to do if he is to be ready for the Three Lions’ first game against Croatia on June 13.
Ward-Prowse had impressed in both warm-up games and was given a lot of set-piece responsibility in the Romania victory, but Southgate has decided to look elsewhere and has given White the chance to travel with the squad.
White spent the Romania game as a centre back but was used as a defensive midfielder for parts of the victory over Austria, and that versatility is understood to have worked in his favour. Southgate has used the 4-2-3-1 formation in these friendlies, so there is a place for White at the base of the midfield.
England will kick their European campaign off against Croatia at Wembley on June 13, before remaining in the English capital for group-stage clashes with Scotland and the Czech Republic.
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