England new boy Ben White was making 300-mile trip back to Brighton when Gareth Southgate gave him shock call-up news - Godz
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England new boy Ben White was making 300-mile trip back to Brighton when Gareth Southgate gave him shock call-up news

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BEN WHITE was travelling home to Brighton on Sunday night when he got THE phone call.

Gareth Southgate’s name appeared on the screen.

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Ben White has replaced injured Trent Alexander-Arnold in the England Euro 2020 squad – but only found out on the drive home from Middlesbrough[/caption]

The defender has enjoyed a fine season at Brighton

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The central defender had left Middlesbrough in a car provided by the FA and was 90 minutes into the 300-mile journey south.

Yet after a quick conversation, which White will remember for the rest of his life, he mentally tore up his list of potential holiday destinations and turned his attention to Wembley.

Then, he prepared for a quick turnaround in Brighton before heading to St. George’s Park this morning to meet up with his new international team-mates.

After a jubilant phone call to his parents, Carole and Barry, the rest of the trip to the seaside on Sunday flew by as his head was now firmly in the clouds.

White, 23, impressed in his two games at Middlesbrough. He delivered a goal-line clearance to ensure a 1-0 win over Austria last week.

And the Albion ace then produced a measured display in an otherwise ropey Three Lions defensive performance in Sunday’s 1-0 victory against Romania.

James Ward-Prowse was the other main option to replace crocked Trent Alexander-Arnold and the Southampton schemer can count himself unlucky to miss out.

But England’s car-crash defending, which saw Tyrone Mings struggle in both friendlies, was clearly the reason why Southgate opted for another centre-back.

White’s route to Euro 2020 has been unconventional, as he had not been selected for England at any level until now.

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He once heard of a potential selection for the Under-19s but it never materialised.

White comes from the Dorset town of Ferndown and with neither parent a football supporter, he was not pushed into the sport.

At an early age, he was thankful that a customer of his hairdresser mum agreed to go in goal in his back garden so he could practice his shooting.

After being rejected by Southampton aged 16, he joined Brighton and had successful loan spells at Newport, Peterborough and Leeds before enhancing his reputation for Graham Potter’s side at the Amex over the last year.

Southgate name-checked White for the first time when announcing his World Cup squad for the qualifiers in March.

Getty

Ben White was travelling home to Brighton from Middlesbrough when he got the call[/caption]

While the coach said White was not quite ready to be selected in the spring, things have clearly changed. This team for Euro 2020 is proving to be a difficult puzzle to piece together.

England have a major problem in central defence, with Harry Maguire slowly recovering from ankle damage and Joe Gomez missing altogether.

Although Conor Coady has come in, England look short of quality and it seems likely they will switch to a back three for Sunday’s game against Croatia.

That could even open the door for White to start.

At the World Cup in Russia, Southgate only decided to play with a back three because he wanted to start Maguire but felt he was too inexperienced to play in a central two with John Stones.

Southgate accepted England’s defending as a team was poor on Sunday and was unhappy with the work-rate from his forwards.

He said: “I didn’t like us without the ball in the first half but that was the whole team. That started from the front.

Getty

Gareth Southgate criticised his side’s defending against Romania[/caption]

“We weren’t disciplined in the way we defended. Our recovery runs were not good enough. It meant that the midfield was stretched and the back players had too many decisions to make.

“They were having to come into spaces where they shouldn’t have needed to be. Without doubt we can improve on that.

“There is a lot of work to be done on the training ground as, without a doubt, we cannot give up the number of chances we did against Romania and not expect to be punished.”

Southgate now faces a big few days to select his team for the side which eliminated England from the 2018 World Cup semi-finals.

Asked how he decides the  starting XI, Southgate said: “We are constantly talking as a coaching staff, constantly looking at the players and looking at the opponent.

“Because the best team for the game with Croatia may not be the best team for the game with Scotland. We have to make sure we get those calls right.”

Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds

 

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Team news, injury updates, latest odds for Belgium vs Russia as Red Devils begin Euros challenge

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BELGIUM are fancied to go all the way in Euro 2020 – but they face a tough opening assignment against Russia.

Roberto Martinez‘s exciting side take on the World Cup 2018 hosts, who once again have home advantage in St Petersburg.

AP

Belgian fans are confident this is finally their year after a number of near misses[/caption]

Settle down with your Saturday night takeaway and get ready to watch the Red Devils in action on ITV1 at 8pm.

Belgium vs Russia risk free bet + 66/1 bet builder tip

What’s the form?

There’s a good reason that many people are tipping Belgium to go all the way this summer.

Under Martinez they’ve developed into a well-oiled machine and were a perfect ten from ten in qualifying, netting 40 GOALS.

Russia have it all to do then, especially as they come into the tournament with just three wins in 11 games.

This game being in St Petersburg is a huge plus for the Russians though, who showed at the World Cup how they can lift their game in front of home fans.

Who’s in and who’s out?

Martinez has selected just five defenders in his 26-man squad, instead looking to unleash the frightening attacking talent at his disposal.

Kevin De Bruyne should be fit after this game despite undergoing facial surgery less than a fortnight ago, while Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Yannick Carrasco are all raring to go.

It will be the most emotional tournament ever. I think it can become a celebration. It can set a before and after for this Covid nightmare.

Roberto Martinez, Belgium managerThe Telegraph

Skipper Artem Dzuyba carries the hopes of the Russians, who also include talented Monaco star Aleksandr Golovin in the squad.

All but four players in the 26 play outside of the Russian Premier League.

Watch out for…

De Bruyne’s fitness – and whether KDB is forced to return with facegear.

We’ve become accustomed to wearing a mask over the past year or so, but should De Bruyne be fit for this clash he might be forced into donning some face protection of a different kind.

The irony to all this? Antonio Rudiger, the man who clouted De Bruyne in the Champions League final, was also wearing a protective mask.

AP

De Bruyne was left with a fractured eye socket after a sickening clash with Rudiger[/caption]

If the game’s rubbish…

You might be able to spot Dries Merten’s wife Katrin Kerhofs in the St Petersburg stands.

A self-confessed ‘beast in the bedroom’, businesswoman Kat boasts a whopping 356k followers on Instagram.

She met childhood sweetheart Dries in their hometown of Leuven, and they married in 2015 after ten years of dating.

Instagram @katkerkhofs

Mertens and Kat tied the knot in 2015 after meeting in Belgium[/caption]

Instagram @katkerkhofs

The blonde described herself during a TV interview as ‘a beast in the bedroom’[/caption]

Fancy a punt?

Get all your Euro 2020 ante-post tips with our tournament betting guide HERE.

Match odds

  • Belgium to win 7/10
  • The draw 5/2
  • Russia to win 4/1

Power prices

  • Kevin De Bruyne & Eden Hazard to have 1 or more shots on target each – Was Evens now 6/4
  • Romelu Lukaku to score in the first 20 minutes – Was 7/1 Now 9/1

Euro 2020 outright odds

  • Belgium 13/2
  • Russia 75/1

*All odds from Paddy Power and correct at time of publication.

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Team news, injury updates, latest odds for Wales vs Switzerland as Dragons look to surprise at Euros again

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IT’S five long years since Wales’ heroics at Euro 2016 – and they’re out to shock the footballing world once again.

The Dragons take on Switzerland in Group A on Saturday, looking to get off to a winning start before tough games against Turkey and Italy.

AP

Wales will hope Gareth Bale can fire them even further than 2016[/caption]

This clash is taking place way out in Baku, with BBC ONE and S4C the place to head for live TV coverage back home.

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What’s the form?

Rocking up to just their third major tournament, the Wales camp looks to be steady despite the ongoing suspension of boss Ryan Giggs.

Former centre-half Rob Page will be in the dugout for the finals, with the Welsh coming into this clash unbeaten in 13 competitive matches.

Switzerland though have hit form at just the right time, heading to Baku on the back of six consecutive victories.

They’re anything but consistent, with that run of form coming after seven games WITHOUT a win – although that sequence did involve excellent draws with Germany in the Nations League.

Who’s in and who’s out?

The Welsh look to have a fully fit 26-man squad to pick from, although Aaron Ramsey and David Brooks are both returning from long-term injuries.

Page has a number of big calls to make, with Keiffer Moore hoping to partner Gareth Bale and Dan James up top.

The Swiss have an abundance of talent in their squad, with familiar Premier League faces Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri carrying their hopes.

Breel Embolo and Yann Sommer will be trusted to get the goals as the Swiss look to clamber out of a tough Group A.

Watch out for…

Gareth Bale. The Real Madrid star has hinted at retirement despite ending his on-loan season at Spurs looking like his old self.

But this isn’t club football and Bale’s heart is in Wales – remember that famous flag?

He’ll be at the top of his game, let’s just hope it isn’t a last hurrah.

We are getting there. We’ve got young, hungry players coming into the squad that want their jerseys. Nobody can rest on what they’ve done before.

Rob Page, Wales temporary coach

Reuters

The famous flag that Bales celebrated with after Wales made it to the finals[/caption]

If the game’s rubbish…

Take a delve into Bale’s notoriously private lifestyle – including a mansion where he’s built his own private golf course.

The Madrid superstar’s childhood sweetheart Emma Rhys-Jones will likely be cheering on from the stands in Baku, along with their three kids Alba, Nava and Axel.

Wales are definitely a team that deserves respect, they’re a team that reached the semi-finals last time around. We respect our opponents – but we’re not scared of anyone.

Vladimir Petković, Switzerland coach

Getty – Contributor

Gareth and Emma have been together since school[/caption]

Instagram

The pair were married in 2019 at a secret ceremony[/caption]

In 2018, work was completed on building a three-hole golf course in Bale’s estate in Wales that amazingly features copies of real holes.

His chosen three holes were the the 12th at Augusta, Royal Troon’s Postage Stamp and the tricky par-three 17th at Sawgrass.

Bale plays off a single-figure handicap and loves his golf

Fancy a punt?

Get all your Euro 2020 ante-post tips with our tournament betting guide HERE.

Match odds:

  • Wales to win 11/4
  • The Draw 19/10
  • Switzerland to win 23/20

Power prices:

  • Gareth Bale & Xherdan Shaqiri each have one or more shots on target from outside the box – was 3/1 now 4/1
  • Gareth Bale to score first – Was 6/1 Now 7/1

Euro 2020 outright odds:

  • Switzerland 66/1
  • Wales 150/1

*All odds from Paddy Power and correct at time of publication.

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Team news, injury updates, latest odds for Denmark vs Finland as Danes look for winning start in Group B

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SUPER SATURDAY continues at Euro 2020 with a Group B clash between Denmark and Finland.

Both sides will both be desperate to get three points on the board early in what is a competitive group, with Belgium and Russia playing later in the day.

Reuters

Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel will be trusted between the sticks for Denmark this summer[/caption]

Sandwiched between Wales vs Switzerland and that match, this clash takes place in Denmark’s capital Copenhagen at 5pm BST.

What’s the form?

The Danes enter the tournament in terrific form, with just one defeat in their last 12 matches.

That also included an unbeaten campaign in qualifying, although they were held to draws in four of their eight matches.

It’s a different story for Finland, who have been fairly dismal since booking their place in the Finals following a solid qualifying.

No wins in six for Markku Kanerva’s side is a concern, with their limp display against Estonia last time out anything but good preparation.

Who’s in and who’s out?

Denmark have a number of high profile players in their ranks and Christian Eriksen will hope to mastermind a run akin to 1992.

The Inter midfielder is still only 28, while Martin Braithwaite, Kasper Dolberg and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg can all play big roles.

The entire Danish people knows what happened in 1992. They showed it’s possible to win a big tournament.

Christian Eriksen

Finland’s hopes lie almost squarely at the feet of their goal machine forward Teemu Pukki, who was once again prolific for Norwich as they returned to the Premier League.

Tim Sparv and Glen Kamara are also big names but Pukki – eyeing up Jari Litmanen’s national goalscoring record – will have the biggest say on whether Finland shock Group B.

Watch out for…

Denmark – just in general.

The Danes have really emerged as dark horses for this summer’s tournament and could spring a surprise.

They have a core of excellent players front to back and will fear nobody.

Like Eriksen said…. anybody remember 1992?

They have better players than us in every position, but we have shown before that the sum of all the parts in our puzzle is greater than what people think.

Lukas Hradecky, Finland goalkeeper

If the game’s rubbish…

You might be able to spot Kasper Schmeichel‘s wife Stine Gyldenbrand supporting the Leicester ace on the terraces.

Stine runs a charity named FodBoldDongen, which organises events to aid vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

The pair met when they were just 17 years old and have two children named Max and Isabella.

Getty

Stine and Kaspar celebrate Leicester’s miraculous title win in 2016[/caption]

Getty

Stine is a midwife and is regularly seen supporting her husband at Foxes games[/caption]

Reuters

The pair have been together for over ten years and married in 2015[/caption]

Fancy a punt?

Get all your Euro 2020 ante-post tips with our tournament betting guide HERE.

Match odds

  • Denmark to win 2/5
  • The Draw 3/1
  • Finland to win 8/1

Power prices

  • Christian Eriksen to have 2 or more shots on target from outside the box – Was 3/1 Now 7/2
  • Kasper Dolberg & Teemu Pukki to have 1 or more shots on target each – Was 11/8 Now 13/8

Euro 2020 outright odds

  • Denmark 25/1
  • Finland 500/1

*All odds from correct at time of publication.

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