Part two of To the Lane and Back’s review of Spurs best XI and today, we will look at blossoming young right-back Kyle Walker.
Having focused on Brad Friedel yesterday, the time to focus on the back four protecting the American is upon us and in Walker, Spurs have got a real gem at full-back.
Scoring a, potentially, career defining winner against Arsenal at the weekend, reminiscent to Danny Rose’s wonder-strike in the sam fixture 18 months ago, Walker has come on leaps and bounds since joining from Sheffield United two years ago.
Bought up through the ranks of the Yorkshire club, Spurs secured his signing two seasons ago in a deal which saw team-mate Kyle Naughton move to White Hart Lane on a similar deal. However, Spurs allowed the then 19-year-old to remain on loan at Bramall Lane to aid his development further.
However, the deal was cut-short and Walker moved to White Hart Lane sooner than anticipated. He made a handful of appearances for the first-team towards the end of the 09/10 season and, despite a 3-1 loss away at Sunderland, showed glimpses of his immense potential.
Not to hamper his development, Walker was then sent on loan at the beginning of the following season, this time to Championship leading QPR. Again, the young full-back excelled with the West London side, so much so that his loan spell was again cut short so he could continue his development at a Premiership side.
At Aston Villa is where he began to make all the headlines, showcasing his attacking prowess from right-back and with his pace and ever improving defensive ability, made him one of the star performers in a somewhat disappointing season for the midlands side.
At the end of the season, Walker re-joined Spurs, much to the dismay of Villa fans but with a starting spot yet to be determined, with Alan Hutton and Vedran Corluka already at the club and both appearing to be ahead of him in the pecking order, Walker admitted that he would welcome the chance to re-join Villa, albeit, temporarily, should Harry Redknapp feel the need to do so.
However, his superb displays at the Euro U-21 Championships, despite England crashing out at the group-stage, saw Walker, following the 1-1 draw with eventual winners Spain, likened to former Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos, the Spanish media even dubbing him the right-back equivalent of the former Real Madrid full-back, and current Anzhi Makhachkala manager.
It was these performances that caught the eye of Redknapp and the former U-21 international has started every Premier League game for Spurs this season. Many Spurs fans were hoping to see the 21-year-old at some point in the season force his way into the starting XI however, many never expected him to jump ahead of Corluka for a spot in the first-team at this early stage.
Nonetheless, Walker has more or less made the right-back position his own following some solid displays from the back, often providing a further attacking threat when he breaks forward from the back four. He still needs to work on the defensive aspect of his game, which will come while he still matures, but his pace and ability to recover from the same position means he is yet to really be beaten down the left-flank while he has been playing.
The Spurs faithful had already welcomed the soon-to-be-England international into their hearts but his strike against Arsenal in the 2-1 win saw his stock rose further and Walker is more than expected to keep the right-back position for the next few years, provided he keeps up his form and steers clear from serous injury.