Interviews

Southgate: England will be a fantastic experience for Ben

Albion defender's flexibility appeals to England head coach.

By Bruce Talbot • 26 May 2021

By Kieran Cleeves
Gareth Southgate named his preliminary squad for Euro 2020 on Tuesday.

Gareth Southgate says Albion's Ben White can look forward to a 'fantastic experience' after being named in the England squad for the first time.

White, 23, is one of 33 players named by Southgate in a provisional group ahead of next month's Euros.

He will report to Middlesbrough's training camp at Rockcliffe Park on Saturday, ahead of friendlies against Austria on 2 June (8pm) and Romania on 6 June (5pm).

There are also first call-ups for Everton defender Ben Godfrey and Sheffield United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

Southgate said, “I think they [White and Godfrey] are both exciting young defenders. Those two are very flexible, they can play different roles – left, right or midfield in Ben's case. This is a great opportunity for us to get to know them a bit better and for them to work with the team.

“It works for everybody. There is no way of knowing how long they will be with us at this stage, but it should be a fantastic experience for them.”

Southgate said that it would be 'five or six days' after the Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea players involved in the Europa League and Champions League finals this week would join the squad, which is why he named 33 players. England's final 26-man squad will be submitted to UEFA by 11pm on 1 June.

“Twelve of them are playing in European finals this week so we were always going to need some additional players for the first part of our camp.,” added Southgate.

“Add into that, we have some injuries that are at various stages so we felt more time will help us make better decisions. My preference would be to name the squad as a clean 26, as we did before [the 2018 World Cup finals in] Russia with standby players who knew their role, but we haven't had an ideal hand of cards this time with a lot of unknowns.

“We will have a lot more information in the next seven days and be able to make the best possible decisions we can.

“We've got a nice balance and it's going to be a brilliant experience for some young players if they are with us for one week or five weeks.

“But we are also building towards a hugely exciting summer and we've got to create a team that can win. We're trying to balance all those decisions.

“The camp is really important for building team spirit, for going through how we will play. The first ten days with the two friendlies are a critical part of our preparation.”