Tottenham defender Kyle Walker desperate for Euro 2012 call-up


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The Independent Football

Kyle Walker has dismissed any notion that the pain of missing out on a Euro 2012 place could be eased by the fact he has plenty of chances to feature for England at a major tournament.

The Tottenham defender has enjoyed a stellar season so far.

A regular under Harry Redknapp, Walker earned his first two England caps in November, has recently been crowned PFA Young Player of the Year and only last week was awarded a new five-year contract at Spurs.

Not bad for a 21-year-old, who four years ago was in the reserve team at Sheffield United and spent last term on loan at Aston Villa.

However, the Sheffield-born defender is not satisfied yet.

He is desperate to be part of the 23-man squad new manager Roy Hodgson is set to unveil for this summer's European Championships at some point next week.

And there will be no consolation if he fails.

Launching the new Vauxhall youth initiative Football Mash Up in Luton yesterday, Walker said: "No chance. It does matter.

"I want to represent my country. It is the thing I have been dreaming about since I was a little kid.

"I used to play countless games on the Play Station. I was always England. I wished I was there and, fingers crossed, I will be on that plane.

"I have an important game for Tottenham against Fulham first.

"Hopefully I can cap off a great season and then it will follow on into the summer."

Whilst there are many who feel Walker will be an automatic choice, he realises the situation is not quite so simple.

Liverpool's Glen Johnson was clearly the preferred pick of former boss Fabio Capello but the Italian's shock exit has offered Manchester City's Micah Richards an opportunity that otherwise might not have arisen.

In addition, Manchester United duo Chris Smalling and Phil Jones both featured for the Three Lions in competitive games before Walker's debut came in the November friendly defeat of world champions Spain at Wembley.

"There is massive competition for the right-back slot," he said.

"But I am still learning and still want to learn. I am trying to be the best I can be."

The additional problem is that none of England's players can be exactly sure what they need to do in order to impress Roy Hodgson.

Had Harry Redknapp got the job, as most people expected, Walker would have known through working with him every day in Tottenham's drive for a Champions League return.

Now though, all bets are off as Hodgson has given little clue as to his thinking beyond a vague statement about how seriously he will consider the players responsible for getting England to Poland and Ukraine.

"Everyone has a fair run-in," said Walker.

"Obviously, Roy Hodgson watches the Premier League and will be aware of what is going on.

"Everyone has a chance to be on that plane. We all need to prove to him that we can do the business at the Euros."

And, whilst his own international experience is not extensive, Walker has been around long enough to know the spirit within the England camp is capable of overcoming any minor difficulties in a new manager being appointed so close to a major tournament.

"When we do meet up with England, the team morale is there," he said.

"It is a good laugh. It is enjoyable.

"You are putting on an England shirt and running out in front of all those fans worldwide. It is an honour.

"If we just go out and play the football that we play every week at our clubs, who knows what will happen?"

For Walker, the challenges mount up. Getting in the squad, getting in the team, trying to win something.

He is relishing every one.

"I didn't expect to be in this position but I have learned in football that anything can happen," he said.

"It is only four years ago that I was playing in the reserves at Sheffield United.

"It has been an incredible four years. Hopefully I am on that plane, then I will be in the team singing the national anthem.

"Who knows what will happen from there? We might even get a medal."

:: Walker was speaking at the launch of Football Mash Up, an initiative set up by the FA and England's sponsors Vauxhall to reduce the football drop-out rate of teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17.