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Should Kyle Walker be England’s starting right back?

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It’s nice when a Spurs player gains international recognition. An honour to play for ones country while, when a player in the current performs exceptionally well on the grand stage, it’s nice to sit back, enjoy and, with a smug grin, tap the person next to you and joyfully announce ‘that player plays for my team’. When a sole Jermain Defoe strike put England into the last 16 of the 2010 World Cup, it was brilliant to read about it the next day, watch the highlights over and over again and discuss the pint-sized hitmans overall contribution, while quickly reminding England fans he plays for Spurs.

Yet, it’s hard to get excited about watching international football, unless we are talking international competitions. Friendlies and qualifiers increase the risk of injury and fatigue to players, who already face a gruelling season prior to the increased expectation of the fans. It was excellent seeing Scott Parker pick up his man of the match accolade following the 1-0 win over Spain last weekend but, for a player who runs his socks off for 90 mins each and every game, it is important he is rested during these pro-longed Premier League dry-spells.

Which brings me on to my next player, young Kyle Walker. The right-back has come on leaps and bounds in recent months, even being labelled the right-foot Roberto Carlos by the Spanish media following a superb performance against the World Champions in last summers U21 Euros. Excellent going forward, but perhaps a little defensively inept, an attribute that will improve with age, has seen him thrust into the spotlight quicker than many anticipated. The winning goal against Arsenal would have only seen more fans stand up and take notice of the 20-year-old’s impressive performances in Spurs’ back four.

Many believe he should be ahead of Glen Johnson in the England pecking order, and rivalling Manchester City’s Micah Richards for a spot in the starting XI. But, with only one senior start to his name, adding to his debut cap he received over the weekend, it is highly likely Johnson will be remain Capello’s first choice right-back due to the Liverpool right-backs international experience.

Nevertheless, at only 20, time is certainly on the side of the former Sheffield United trainee. Possessing all the physical attributes to succeed in the game, while stepping up his performances, especially last season with Aston Villa, it certainly won’t be long before Walker is an England regular. But, should he really be the first choice?

Richards has been in excellent form for City this season, and can count himself unlucky to have not been included in Capello’s recent squad selection, and it is easier said than done when it comes to writing off Johnson. His inexperience will certainly hinder his chances of leap frogging the aforementioned duo into a starting spot for the national side but, if he continues to put in performances similar to his Spurs ones on a weekly basis, it will be hard to overlook the youngster when future squads are announced by the Italian and whoever manages England after he steps down next summer.

Ben McAleer

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