Southgate goes against the grain with inexperienced 26th England pick

Date published: Monday 7th June 2021 8:33 - Steve Pearson

Gareth Southgate, England manager

England boss Gareth Southgate confounded expectations when picking his replacement for Trent Alexander-Arnold in the squad for Euro 2020.

The Three Lions manager was criticised from all angles when initially picking four right-backs for the tournament. In a twist of fate, Liverpool creative force Alexander-Arnold suffered a thigh injury during their warm-up clash with Austria that ruled him out of contention.

Attention turned to who Southgate would select as the replacement. The main candidates appeared to be midfield duo James Ward-Prowse and Jesse Lingard.

Ward-Prowse once again showcased his lethal ability from the dead ball in England’s final warm-up win over Romania.

Lingard, meanwhile, had enjoyed a purple patch the likes of which he had never experienced while on loan at West Ham.

Nevertheless, Southgate went against the grain by calling up Brighton defender Ben White.

White, 23, enjoyed a stellar first campaign in the top flight last year, leading to him scooping the club’s Player of the Year accolade.

He made his international debut last week, featuring in both friendlies as preparations ramped up.

Ben White 26th man for England, Euro 2020

White is equally adept at playing in a central defensive pairing or trio. Perhaps what also went in his favour is his versatility having spent time at holding midfield as well last season.

A final decisive factor in his locker could have been the uncertainty surrounding Harry Maguire’s fitness.

Should the Man Utd defender be unable to play a meaningful role, England are strongly tipped to field a back three, thereby increasing the demand for competent centre-halves.

“We will pull rank next time” – Southgate

Gareth Southgate during England's victory over Romania, June 2021

Meanwhile, Southgate admitted the one sour point in their victory over Romania will be rectified if the situation arises again.

Jordan Henderson’s missed penalty was the one sour point in their 1-0 victory over Romania. Dominic Calvert-Lewin had been expected to take the kick. Though the Liverpool captain pulled rank in search of his first England goal.

After the match, Southgate admitted he was surprised to see the Liverpool man take the set piece.

“We had Marcus Rashford on penalties then James Ward-Prowse but both came off. We expected Dominic Calvert-Lewin to take it and I was expecting Hendo to go over to him and let him take it. We will pull rank next time.”

READ MORE: Roy Keane rips Liverpool man apart with triple jibe over baffling England role

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