Kyle Walker hails Gary Neville's influence in the England camp

 

Kyle Walker has hailed the impact England coach Gary Neville has had on his game as he prepares to make his first competitive start for his country.

The Tottenham defender is poised to replace the suspended Glen Johnson at right-back for England's World Cup qualifier with San Marino at Wembley on Friday.

Walker made his debut 11 months ago against Spain in a friendly and was in contention to be part of the Euro 2012 squad before being ruled out with a toe injury.

Walker, who was named the PFA young player of the year in April, received a call from England manager Roy Hodgson assuring him he remained part of his plans after that disappointment, and is now poised to embark on a new chapter in his England career.

And the 22-year-old feels the influence of former Manchester United and England defender Neville is helping him develop still further.

Walker said: "I'm young, I want to improve, I want to become the best I can be and Gary Neville is really helping me with that aim.

"He a player I looked up to and watched often. He had a fantastic career. He gives me tips and coaches me through things. I'm excited to be working with him.

"I've always liked to go forward but he has helped massively in terms of myself improving defensively. I just want to keep on learning.

"My defending is improving every time, every week. I think it is just about experience and learning off people like Gary plus the likes of Joleon Lescott, Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill.

"The decision-making has to be key. There is club level but then you step up to international level and have to be even more precise."

Johnson's absence will give Walker a chance in a meaningful game which may have happened earlier but for the injury which ended his Euro 2012 hopes.

He said: "On a personal note it is a fantastic opportunity for me to get into the team. I've been patient and waited for that.

"Hopefully on Friday I can show everyone what I can do and have a good game.

"A first competitive start is what I've been waiting for, for a long time now. For all my career, since I was seven, I've wanted to play for England, and put that jersey on.

"It's been a very up and down year for me. I won the young player of the year at club level so it's been good in that sense.

"At the end of the season it was a disappointment, having worked so hard to get into the England team, to have that little niggle on my toe.

"But it was fantastic the manager gave me the phone call, saying it was sad he couldn't take me there but saying I was in his plans and he had belief in me."

Walker, who signed a new five-year contract with Tottenham at the end of last season, can certainly not be accused of being over-confident.

He said: "I've done nothing. I'm 22. I've done absolutely nothing in my career so far.

"I had a good last season, winning the young player and a few more awards, but that's just the start and hopefully I can go on."

England will be red-hot favourites to dispose of San Marino before a sterner test against Poland in Warsaw on Tuesday.

Walker added: "Teams will want to play really well against England and prove to the world what they can do.

"It's just a matter of us being on song and doing the basics right and not showing off and showboating and getting the three points.

"If they want to put 10 men behind the ball it's up to them, but we just have to do our job right.

"Everyone is saying it will be an easy game but it could be Real Madrid, Manchester United or San Marino. I'm going to prepare the same and put my all into it."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there