'Too late' - Paul Merson issues stinging international verdict on Brighton duo
Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson has argued that it is “too late” for Brighton duo Adam Webster and Lewis Dunk to force their way into Gareth Southgate’s England squad for this summer’s European Championships.
The Three Lions manager is facing a potential shortage of talent at the heart of defence, with Manchester United star Harry Maguire the latest player to be struck down by injury.
There has been speculation from some quarters that his absence could open up a spot for the likes of Webster or Dunk to earn an unexpected call-up for the tournament, but Merson is unconvinced.
Speaking about the Albion pair’s chances of getting the nod from Southgate, he said: “I would say it’s too late.
"It’s another step, the international game. We’ve seen that with certain players. I go back to Ryan Shawcross – he was a decent a centre-half, but he came up against Ibrahimovic one day and it finished his England career, which was unfair because he came up against someone who was at the top of their game.
“But that’s the standard you go to.
"With these extra players that you can bring in, I think he’ll take Maguire as long as he can.
"He’ll try and make sure he puts Maguire in just to see. He knows he’s got extra spaces.”
Dunk won his one and only England cap against the USA in a friendly back in 2018. For his part, Webster has never represented his country at senior level, but did pick up a handful of appearances for the U19s.