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Gareth Southgate explains Ben White and Emile Smith Rowe omissions from latest England squad


Ben White and Emile Smith Rowe were left out of England’s latest squad (Picture: Getty)

Gareth Southgate says Arsenal duo Ben White and Emile Smith Rowe were ‘very close’ to making his England squad for the side’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary.

Fikayo Tomori, Ollie Watkins and Aaron Ramsdale all returned as Southgate named his latest 23-man party on Thursday afternoon and Manchester City’s Phil Foden was also recalled after recovering from a foot problem.

Defenders Harry Maguire and Trent-Alexander Arnold were both unavailable and will play no part in the double-header, while Mason Mount was included despite sitting out Chelsea’s last two games with an injury.

There has been a clamour for White to receive a call-up in Maguire’s absence but it was disappointment for Arsenal’s £50million summer signing, who has played in two friendlies for the Three Lions.

Conor Coady, Tyrone Mings, John Stones and Tomori were all given the nod and the former Brighton centre-back will have to wait for his competitive debut.

‘He performed well against Tottenham, is still settling into a new club,’ Southgate told reporters when asked about White’s omission.

‘But the performance showed good signs and he is a player we are monitoring closely.

‘He would have been very close to this squad as well.’

Ramsdale could make his debut against either Andorra or Hungary (Picture: Getty)

Smith Rowe has put forward a strong case for selection after producing a string of eye-catching performances for Arsenal, particularly in the north London derby where he scored and assisted Bukayo Saka.

However, Southgate said the 21-year-old attacking midfielder still hadn’t ‘earned that right’ to be capped at senior level.

‘He’s a player we like a lot and he was very close to making this squad,’ the England head coach added.

At this moment in time I don’t want to bring in any more younger players out of the Under-21s. They have got to earn that right over a longer period

I thought his [Smith Rowe] performance against Tottenham was very good, we know how he finished last season as well.

I can only say he is a player we really like and he was close.

Arsenal new boy White has bounced back from a shaky debut against Brentford to form a formidable partnership with Gabriel Magalhaes and the pair were widely praised for the way they snuffed out Tottenham last weekend.

Mikel Arteta has been pleased with ‘composure and the calmness’ the centre-half has shown in dealing with the expectations that come with such a high transfer fee.

‘Well I’ve been very impressed with how he handles the pressure, with how he handles the situation of coming through the Euros, the big fee, the composure and the calmness that he shows,’ the Spaniard said at a press conference on Thursday.

‘We all really enjoy him together and we have to continue like that.’


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