Paul Merson says Jadon Sancho and Luke Shaw should not be in the England World Cup squad, using a Roy Keane comment to cement his claim.
The Three Lions get together this month for the final camp before the tournament in Qatar. Brentford striker Ivan Toney stole the headlines for his first call-up. Elsewhere, there was also a big focus on Manchester United’s players.
England boss Gareth Southgate has regularly insisted that he picks on form, leading to debate as to why Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire retained their spots.
Indeed, the United pair have lost their places in Erik ten Hag’s side to Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia, respectively.
But, two players back on the up this term in Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford did not make the team.
Merson has now claimed that Rashford “should feel hard done by”. The pundit added that the 24-year-old will make Southgate’s World Cup selection “if he keeps doing what he’s doing”.
But elsewhere in his Sky Sports column, Merson claimed that Sancho has no chance of making the team.
Sancho will not make England squad – Merson
“I don’t think anyone else will get into the England fold between now and the World Cup,” the ex-Arsenal man wrote. “There’s not too many English footballers playing well at the moment.
“Roy Keane hit it on the head when he said: if you’re not playing for your country, you’re not very good.
“I can’t think of anyone who’s not playing for England right now who is good, there’s not a lot players left out there.
“People talk to me about Jadon Sancho, but he’s scored two Premier League goals and got no assists. He’s not ripping it up, and while he scored a good goal against Liverpool he’s in a queue of a lot of players in that position.”
Merson claimed new boy Toney’s place at the World Cup “depends” on how he performs this month.
However, the pundit claimed Man Utd left-back Luke Shaw should not go to the World Cup. And he added that Maguire’s role is in serious doubt if his current trajectory continues.
Man Utd left-back Shaw questioned
Merson claimed Southgate cannot play Maguire if, come November, “he is only playing Europa League football”.
As for Shaw, the pundit wrote: “I don’t see Shaw making it to the World Cup, though. He needs to be playing football constantly, every week, and that’s not happening.
“I don’t see how he gets in for Qatar, especially looking at the number of full-backs we’ve got. That’s a position that we are blessed with. Why do you need him?
“You’ve got Kyle Walker, Reece James, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Chilwell and Kieran Trippier. You’re taking five full-backs without Shaw!”
England stars must perform
While England will want to finish their Nations League campaign on a high, the bigger picture is the World Cup coming down the track.
And there will subsequently be a massive focus on Man Utd’s contingent in the coming months.
Maguire is perhaps the player to look out for most. He is United’s captain and has faced criticism for a while, with Ten Hag not afraid to drop him. However, he is a leader and a core member of Southgate’s group.
Shaw’s situation is also one to keenly observe. Aside from the 2020/21 campaign leading up to Euro 2020, he has not performed consistently and is now back out of the Old Trafford team.
Up front, there is more optimism about Rashford.
He has had a difficult spell after shoulder surgery and a lack of form, but there is a real sense he is working – and working hard – to win back his place.
Finally, Sancho is into his second United season and looking to kick on after a mixed debut season. Still, there is healthy competition up front for the Three Lions.