Neville thinks Southgate can't pick Ben White at right-back for England
Gary Neville told Monday Night Football on Sky Sports (broadcast on 3/10; 22:00) that Gareth Southgate would be destroyed if he decided to pick Arsenal star Ben White at right-back for England during the World Cup this winter.
White has been a revelation on the right during the early stages of the season. Mikel Arteta turned to White to play that role with William Saliba finally getting his opportunity and Takehiro Tomiyasu enduring a tough first season at the Emirates with injury.
Tomiyasu was outstanding when he was fit last season. However, there is surely an argument that White is now first-choice in that position for the Gunners.
Southgate can’t pick Ben White at right-back
Of course, there are likely to be times this term when White moves back into the middle. But for now, it appears that he is going to stake his claim for England’s World Cup squad as a right-back.
Obviously, it goes without saying that right-back is not an area where England struggle for depth.
Neville and Jamie Carragher were discussing the conundrum of the Three Lions’ defence ahead of the tournament. Harry Maguire has come in for a lot of criticism in recent months. And with that, some may be tempted to suggest that England use a back four instead.
That leaves the side vulnerable given the attacking quality of the full-backs available. And that prompted Neville to float the idea of using White at right-back to provide more balance. However, he believes that Southgate cannot afford to overlook the other options for the Arsenal man.
“If you went to a back four at the moment and you left Harry Maguire out, it would be Stones and Dier. And there would be two full-backs who would be flying on like crazy. You might sit Kyle Walker in a little bit. I wouldn’t think for me, that would be the right thing to do to play a back four,” he told Monday Night Football.
“I think Ben White could come into it now and play tight as a right-back as he’s doing at Arsenal and narrow your back four. But then you lose something in the fact you’re playing Ben White at right-back.
“You’ve got Walker, Reece James, Alexander-Arnold and Trippier to call upon, Gareth would get absolutely killed for that.”
Few playing better than Arsenal star
Of course, it would be a gamble to ignore those players in Qatar. But Southgate did not use Alexander-Arnold in the most recent international break anyway.
If you are picking players on form, White simply has to be in the conversation. Certainly, he should be in the squad at the very least. He can play centre-back, right-back or even holding midfield if needed. He also has the versatility of playing in a back three or back four.
Southgate will be criticised for something if England do not win the tournament. He has to block out the noise.
Ian Wright told Match of the Day that White had been magnificent in the North London derby this weekend. Not picking him for the squad would be a real mistake.
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