England boss Gareth Southgate says Leeds United spell put Ben White on Three Lions radar
New England squad member Ben White first appeared on Gareth Southgate's radar last season while he was a Leeds United player.
The Brighton centre-half has had a fine season in the Premier League with his parent club, having spent the 2019/20 campaign on loan at Elland Road winning the Championship title and promotion.
White played every minute of the Championship season, forming a solid partnership with club captain Liam Cooper in the heart of Marcelo Bielsa's defence. But when injury or suspension struck for Kalvin Phillips, whose name also appeared in Southgate's squad list for this week's pre-Euros training camp in Middlesbrough, it was White Bielsa turned to.
Southgate likes the versatility of the 23-year-old, who has played at right-back and in midfield during his 36 Premier League appearances for the Seagulls this season.
He opted to add White and Everton centre-half Ben Godfrey to a 33-man provisional squad that will be cut down to 26 by next Tuesday before a pair of warm-up fixtures.
"I think they're both exciting young defenders," said Southgate.
"There are others we've also been looking at we really like. Ezri Konsa has had a really good season at Villa, [Fikayo] Tomori has done well at Milan.
"This is a great opportunity for us to know [White and Godfrey] better. It works for everybody.
"Ben is a younger player, there's a bit of investment in the future there. With Ben we have tracked him since he was on loan with Leeds. We've seen him play in midfield and across the back line. He's comfortable with the ball and he has pace."
White struck up a close friendship with Phillips last season as a Leeds player and the latter took to social media after this afternoon's squad announcement to offer his congratulations, along with Whites striker Tyler Roberts who is currently involved in Wales' pre-tournament training camp in Portugal.
The Brighton man has often credited Leeds head coach Bielsa for improving his game in a number of ways.
“I learned so much from him. It was the detail in every aspect of the game that he put the work into," he said earlier this season.
“His coaching was all about details, the minor details, things like how the ball spins when you pass it, how you’re passing it, why you’re passing it."
Leeds made a number of attempts to prise White away from Brighton last summer before the south coast side made it clear they would not do business with a club they considered a direct rival. Instead Leeds brought in German international Robin Koch and Spain's Diego Llorente, both of whom will travel to the Euros with their respective national teams this summer.
White, along with the impressive Lewis Dunk and Adam Webster, helped Brighton to stay in the Premier League this season. The Seagulls, who did the double over Leeds, finished in 16th place, seven places and 18 points behind Leeds.