Brighton defender impressed in friendly against Romania
He offers cover for injured Maguire and can play in midfield
Ben White has been called up as Trent Alexander-Arnold’s replacement in England’s squad for Euro 2020 after impressing against Romania on Sunday.
Gareth Southgate was forced to alter his 26-man squad after Alexander-Arnold suffered a thigh injury during last Wednesday’s victory over Austria and the manager has decided to bring in extra defensive cover after taking a close look at White. The Brighton centre-back made his international debut as a substitute against Austria and his performance from the start during the 1-0 win over Romania suggested that he is capable of covering for Harry Maguire, who is likely to be absent with damaged ankle ligaments when England face Croatia in their opening game on Sunday.
There was a sense that James Ward-Prowse would be the player to step up after Alexander-Arnold, one of four right-backs in the squad, was ruled out for four to six weeks. The Southampton midfielder produced a strong display against Romania, winning the ball sharply and impressing and he would have lessened the pressure on Jordan Henderson to regain full match sharpness after returning from a long-term groin injury.
Henderson made his appearance since 20 February after coming on at half-time against Romania and the Liverpool midfielder remains a doubt to face Croatia. Southgate is unsure how much his vice-captain will feature and calling up Ward-Prowse, who can also play at right-back, would have given England another option in central midfield. Jude Bellingham, Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice are the other midfielders.
White’s inclusion is a sign that Southgate is confident about Henderson’s fitness. The 23-year-old was called up for the first time last month and has done enough to prove his worth. White’s quality and versatility have been evident in both of his appearances. He made a late goalline clearance after coming on as a defensive midfielder in the 1-0 win over Austria.
Southgate has problems in defence. Tyrone Mings struggled in both warm-up games and there are no guarantees that Maguire will feature in the group stage. The Manchester United centre-back has not played since 9 May and resumed running only last week.
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