He’s been a right-back his entire life, but that is going to stop him in Russia
In a frank interview, England defender Kyle Walker has revealed he is a reluctant centre-back.
A lot of focus has been on national boss Gareth Southgate’s decision to play three at the back, which has seen Walker operate in an unfamiliar position.
The 28-year-old plays right-back for Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and has also featured in the same position for the majority of his 35 England appearances.
“Is it my preferred position?” Walker says. “Of course not. I want to play right-back. I’ve worked my whole life to get to where I am now in a World Cup squad, and to showcase my talent on the World Cup stage, playing in my position.
“I’ve been playing professionally since I was 18 at right-back, to get to your first World Cup and probably not be playing in your preferred position, where you want to showcase your talent, is not disappointing but it is a little bit of a step back.”
Not that it is likely to detract him from his mission of helping his country win in Russia, which starts against Tunisia on 18 June.
“I’m a professional. As long as the manager feels it’s going to benefit the team then why not?”
Playing under for his club manager, though, where he won the Premier League in his first season has helped with this tactical flexibility.
“It was comfortable because of the work I’ve done at City,” Walker added. “The gaffer [Guardiola] really doesn’t like to be overloaded in midfield. So if he does see that then I do tuck in and so we go as a back three. My game has developed tremendously under him. He [Guardiola] has taught me so much.”
And he wants to continue his glorious season with the Three Lions. “We are strong in all areas. We have a great bunch of lads, pace to burn and a great defensive record.
“It’s been a fantastic season for City. We want to continue that for England now.”