Belfast Telegraph

Hughton backs Dunk for England debut

The 26-year-old was called up by Gareth Southgate on Thursday.

Brighton boss Chris Hughton feels Lewis Dunk fully merits an England debut.

Uncapped defender Dunk has once again been called on by national team manager Gareth Southgate ahead of games against the United States and Croatia.

The 26-year-old was a late addition to Southgate’s last squad in October but failed to make it off the bench.

“Lewis’s inclusion is a result of the platform this club has given him – that’s not all been under me and I know he’s thankful to a lot before me,” said Hughton, quoted on Albion’s Twitter account.

“But he’s earned it with England – he did himself credit last season and he’s put in a lot of hard work.”

Dunk’s first international involvement came as a result of an injury suffered by Burnley centre-back James Tarkowski.

He watched on from the sidelines as his country drew 0-0 in a behind-closed-doors game in Croatia, before they pulled off a surprise 3-2 win against their other Nations League opponents Spain.

With the USA game on November 15 only a friendly, the Albion academy graduate will possibly be more hopeful of some game time during this international break.

Before then his club face a trip to lowly Cardiff after their three-match winning run in the Premier League was ended by last weekend’s defeat at Everton.

Hughton feels Saturday’s clash with Neil Warnock’s Bluebirds starts a run of games which could go a long way to defining their season.

“We’ve got a crucial period of games coming up – but the Premier League is such a tough league that it always applies,” he said.

“We know we’re more likely to pick points up off sides outside of the top six – but we have to capitalise on that ourselves.

“They (Cardiff) will have good backing this weekend and it will be another tough game.”

Iran winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh is a major doubt for the visit to south Wales due to a minor hamstring strain suffered at Goodison Park.

Midfielders Pascal Gross and Davy Propper remain sidelined with their respective ankle problems, while back-up goalkeeper David Button is expected to miss out due to a knee issue.

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