Former Sheffield United defender Kyle Walker ready for a new challenger at international level
After eight years with the north Londoners, the 27-year-old full-back – named in this season’s PFA Team of the Year – could soon be leaving for pastures new.
Manchester City have been strongly linked with a summer move for former Blades defender Walker, who reportedly wants to leave Spurs after falling out with manager Mauricio Pochettino over game-time and fitness.
Manchester United, Chelsea and even Barcelona are also said to be interested in a player whose full focus now is on international matters, having linked up with England ahead of Saturday’s crunch World Cup qualifier in Scotland.
“Not at all,” said Walker, when asked if the speculation was a distraction.
“I mean, you know coming away from club football kind of gives you a little bit of head space.
“I am an England player now and I am fully focused on a massive game on Saturday. We need to go and get the three points.”
Asked whether he could give an indication on where he would be next season, the right-back said: “No, no indication at all.”
Pochettino preferred Kieran Trippier for some big matches towards the end of the season, including the north London derby against Arsenal and FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea.
Impressive displays on such occasions have led to a first senior England call-up for Trippier, meaning he now stands in Walker’s way at international level as well.
“I think it has pushed us both on as players, most definitely,” Walker said of the competition at club level with Trippier, who made 67 appearances at Barnsley on loan from Manchester City from 2010 before joining Burnley in 2012.
“We get the best out of each other and, even if Tripps plays or I play, we’ve said privately to each other that we will each other on.
“I don’t ever say a bad word or wish bad on him because it’s more about the team rather than individual performances.
“We’re putting on our England shirt now and whoever gets the nod I am sure the other one will be fully behind it. I’ve known Tripps since under-19s. We had a tournament with England in Ukraine. I played centre-half and he played right-back, I do believe. We get along well, we’re two northern boys down south so we bounce off each other like that and we get along really well.”
The experience that comes with 25 international caps may mean Walker gets the nod for what is sure to be a heated World Cup qualifier at Hampden Park this weekend.
The Spurs right-back played a part in November’s 3-0 triumph at Wembley, so, too, the 3-2 friendly win in 2013, and hopes to be on the winning side again.
“If you don’t like these games then you might as well not be in football,” added Walker.
“You know, it’s a local derby. I’ve played in two before and the atmosphere at Wembley was terrific.
“I think it’s going to be just as good up there and we need to go and silence the crowd and hopefully get the three points.
“I think it’s going to be right up there, but it’s something that we need to adapt to.
“We need to take control of it and play our game and trust in the players that we’ve got and, like I said before, try and silence the crowd.”
Jamie Vardy has withdrawn from the England squad to face Scotland and France through injury.
Vardy has been ruled out of both matches after the Leicester striker sustained a minor injury in training on Tuesday.
A short statement from the Football Association read: “Jamie Vardy has left the England squad as a precaution after picking up a minor injury in training at St. George’s Park yesterday.
“The Leicester City striker won’t play a part in either Saturday’s World Cup qualifier in Scotland or Tuesday’s trip to France.
“No further players are due to be added to the squad at this moment in time.”
Vardy is the second player to withdraw from the squad after Liverpool right-back Nathaniel Clyne pulled out with a back injury at the end of May.
The striker endured a topsy-turvy season at Leicester, kicking on under former England coach Craig Shakespeare to end the season with 16 goals in all competitions.
Former Halifax and Stocksbridge Park Steels striker Vardy was also on the scoresheet in the Three Lions’ last match, wrapping up a 2-0 win against Lithuania shortly after coming on in March’s World Cup qualifier.
Marcus Rashford, Jermain Defoe and Harry Kane are among the strikers this time around, with all-time top scorer Wayne Rooney overlooked.