Declan Rice hopes to convince Arsenal team-mate Ben White to make England U-turn

Declan Rice is hoping to convince Arsenal team-mate Ben White to make an international U-turn and become available to play for England.

The 26-year-old White has starred for the Premier League leaders this season but has not featured in the national team squad since the 2022 World Cup.

White returned early from Qatar for what the Football Association called “personal reasons” and reports later emerged of an alleged bust-up with England assistant Steve Holland.

Southgate recently confirmed that Ben White had made himself unavailable for selection
England boss Gareth Southgate (pictured) recently confirmed that Ben White had made himself unavailable for selection (James Manning/PA)

England manager Gareth Southgate denied any such fall-out when he announced his squad for the friendlies against Brazil and Belgium, with Rice now named as captain for the latter on Tuesday night.

Rice will now lead out Southgate’s side at Wembley in the final friendly before the manager picks his 23-man squad for Euro 2024 – and then will set about convincing White to change his mind

“When I go back and I’ll speak to him and see,” Rice told talkSPORT.

“But hopefully he does change his mind on that because having a player like that – in the squad who’s performing well in the Premier League – it’d be a great addition to the (England) squad.”

White, whose new contract at Arsenal was announced the same day as his continued omission from Southgate’s squad, has been in fine form for his club this season.

Rice believes the versatility of the former Brighton man could also be a positive for Southgate heading into a tournament where squad size is at a premium.

“The only thing I can say is, it’s Ben’s life. It’s Ben’s decision,” added Rice.

“We can’t argue with him with what he wants to do. Of course, there’s always going to be people writing stuff, having their opinions on what they think.

White has been in fine form for Arsenal this season
White has been in fine form for Arsenal this season (John Walton/PA)

“But at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is what he thinks and at this moment in time, he obviously doesn’t want to play for England.

“I really hope he does (change his mind), because I see him every day, he is such a good character. For people that don’t know, such a good character, very composed, very level-headed.

“When he’s on a football pitch, he will do anything to win but also I think for England as well, he can play as a centre-back and at right-back, as in inverted full-back. Now he’s a really key tool that we could have.

“So I hope he changes his mind. Obviously, at this moment in time, he doesn’t feel like he wants that. So that I think is his decision.

“I know him and Gareth spoke internally about it. So I don’t know too much of the ins and outs, but I just hope he changes his mind.

“If you know him as a person and as a player like I do, he’s such a good guy. He’s such a good guy and he’s an unbelievable footballer.

“Playing for England is the greatest honour you could ever have. So hopefully, with the quality that he has and the quality he can bring to this side, we can get him back in.”

Rice also claimed his fellow Arsenal team-mates within the England ranks would be attempting to change White’s mind.

“When I get back I can have a conversation with him and see the ins and outs and see what he thinks,” he added.

“I would love him to come. I think Bukayo (Saka) would. I think Aaron Ramsdale would. I think we’re all going to be on him when we get back to say… hopefully, he can change his mind but I don’t know the ins and outs of that conversation.”