Kyle Walker's elevation to the England squad, hours after his first Premier League goal, vindicated his childhood mentors at Sheffield United. The Villa right-back explained after this game that he had started out as a striker before being converted into his current position, where he has evolved into one of the country's most precious prospects.
Then again, judging by his goal which put Villa 2-1 ahead, maybe he should have stuck to striking. After darting forward from close to the halfway line, the 20-year-old unleashed an impressively executed 35-yard shot.
Either way, England manager Fabio Capello is impressed with the Villa defender, on loan from Tottenham. Walker explained: "I was converted to a defender in my second year of scholarship. I was small and it benefited me. I've grown a bit since then."
Regarding his long-term chances of an England place, Walker said: "I've got to work on the defensive side. When I became a right-back my coach told me to look at Gary Neville and Ashley Cole – Cole for going forward and Neville for the defending – and I would learn a lot. That's what I've done."
Gérard Houllier is clearly aiming to moderate expectations, though. The Villa manager said: "He's not the finished article. He's in the Under-21s, which is his level for me."
Stewart Downing's 13th-minute cross made it 1-0 as John Pantsil headed into his own net. Fulham levelled when Steve Sidwell's shot was parried by Brad Friedel and Andy Johnson followed up to head in. Walker's goal looked likely to win the game, but Fulham equalised again when Clint Dempsey nodded in Danny Murphy's corner.
Scorers: Aston Villa Pantsil og 13, Walker 72. Fulham Johnson 52, Dempsey 78.
Subs: Aston Villa Albrighton (Petrov, 83), Heskey (Agbonlahor, 86) Unused Marshall (gk), Cuellar, Pires, Reo-Coker, Delfouneso.
Fulham Salcido (Pantsil, 62), Davies (Duff, 67), Gudjohnsen (A Johnson, 90) Unused Stockdale (gk), Gera, Greening, Kakuta. Booked: Aston Villa A Young, Makoun, Petrov Fulham Baird, Murphy.
Man of the match Downing Match rating 7/10.
Possession Aston Villa 60% Fulham 40%.
Attempts on target Aston Villa 5 Fulham 9.
Referee L Mason (Lancashire) Att 35,899.Reuse content