Ben White England debut: What Gareth Southgate said, how he played and Trent Alexander-Arnold replacement
You just get the feeling Ben White’s England appearance against Austria on Wednesday night could be the first of many.
Albion’s 23-year-old academy graduate looked as calm and assured as he has all season when he trotted on to the pitch at the Riverside Stadium as a 71st minute replacement for Jack Grealish.
He helped England to a hard fought 1-0 victory against the competitive Austrians, after Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka fired a second half winner.
White played a holding midfield role, he looked good on the ball, drove forward with purpose and also saved England in stoppage time as he cleared off the line to maintain their slender 1-0 lead.
“It’s something you dream of as a kid,” tweeted White shortly after his debut. “Loved every minute of it.”
The former Leeds loanee was not included in the 26-man squad for this summer’s Euros when it was named on Tuesday, although White is on standby and is well in contention to face Romania this Sunday (5pm).
The defender is the fifth Albion player to represent England and the first since teammate Lewis Dunk gained his solitary cap in a friendly against United States in 2018.
Albion’s other England players are Steve Foster (3 caps), Peter Ward (1) and Tommy Cook (1) and bizarrely the Three Lions have won all seven games when an Albion player has been in their team.
White still has a very slim chance of representing England later this month as right back Trent Alexander-Arnold sustained a thigh injury on Wednesday while making a routine clearance.
The Liverpool man is now doubtful for the Euro campaign. White has proved he is capable of playing in a variety of roles but Southgate would not be pressed on who could be selected, if Alexander-Arnold is forced to miss out.
“Let’s see how Trent is and then we’ll go from there,” said the England boss.
White however certainly made a favourable impression and Southgate was pleased with the Brighton player’s contribution to the group this week.
“We are really pleased with Ben White, Ben Godfrey, and Aaron Ramsdale, they have come into the squad for the first time, trained really well, and added a lot to the group.
“There were three boys who knew they were coming in for the experience of training with us and for these two matches and who knows what might happen. They have trained really well.”
England kick-off their Euros campaign against Croatia on June 13.