Gareth Southgate might easily have selected four Arsenal player’s for his latest England squad but ended up giving the nod to just Bukayo Saka and Aaron Ramsdale.
For Emile Smith Rowe and Ben White, the disappointment was offset by positive words from the Three Lions boss who rightly pointed to stiff competition both in defence and midfield.
For Mikel Arteta, the fact his players are in the mix for international call-ups is positive, even if some of them have to be patient a little longer.
“Gareth has to make some difficult choices, he has so many options,” said Arteta ahead of Arsenal’s clash with Watford.
“What I like is that our players are performing at a level that I’m sure they are giving problems in the selection to Gareth and the coaching staff. That’s what pleases me.
“I know that they have the level to do it and it’ll be about timing and the right moment when the manager decides to select them.”
Asked specifically about Smith Rowe missing out – the midfielder will instead join up with Lee Carsley’s under-21s – again Arteta accentuated the positives.
“I think he should be happy if people are questioning any decision [to leave him out] because that proves the level that he’s playing at.
“Like anything that’s happened in Emile’s career, it will come when it’s the right moment. We don’t know if it’s the right moment, Gareth knows much better than us what he judges the role he could have in that team.
“If he’s decided it’s not the right moment, I’m sure it was a very thoughtful process and the right decision.”
Put to Arteta that it’s beneficial to Arsenal when his players aren’t selected for international duty – the suggestion being more rest and more time on the training ground is good during a busy season – the boss wasn’t so sure.
“I don’t know, I think our objective should be to prepare the players with the right mindset to have the biggest ambitions,” he said.
“Those two [Smith Rowe and White] have the biggest ambitions and it’s probably why they are performing the way they are. It will come.
“They have to respect those decisions and not take any disappointment because it’s a long run. Affecting them negatively in their performances, in their mindset, that’s not what we want, we want the opposite.”