Tottenham defender hopes new signing spurs him on to emulate Rose’s rapid progress
Kyle Walker hopes the arrival of his former England Under-19 team-mate Kieran Trippier will spur him on to emulate Danny Rose’s rapid improvement at Tottenham.
Trippier has moved to White Hart Lane to compete with Walker for the right-back spot, having impressed for relegated Burnley last season - and the 3.5million recruit caught the eye in pre-season, setting up Tom Carroll’s goal in last week’s 2-0 Audi Cup victory over AC Milan.
Walker got the nod for Saturday’s Premier League opener at Manchester United but he is aware he will have to perform consistently and even improve to keep his place – and he is relishing the challenge.
“I’ve played with Tripps for the England Under-19s and I know what a good player he is,” said Walker. “I’ve had good competition here before with Kyle Naughton for a long time. Tripps coming here is only going to push me into becoming a better player.
“Ben Davies came in last season [at left-back] and look what he did for Danny Rose – he spurred him on and hopefully Tripps’ arrival will do the same for me.
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“I don’t feel pressure. When I came here I was probably the fifth-choice right back! I don’t feel pressure, I probably thrive on it. I know it will make me a better player, and I’ve got to believe in myself.
“Kieran Trippier is a good friend but he’s competition and he is a human being just like me, so whoever plays I’m sure will do a fantastic job for Spurs and I wish him all the best.”
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Given the new rivalry, Walker would probably have hoped for a better start to the season than his decisive own goal in Saturday’s opening game at Old Trafford.
When Nabil Bentaleb’s pass was intercepted by Juan Mata in the 22nd minute, Walker was well upfield on the opposite flank, and in rushing back to challenge Wayne Rooney – who seemed set to score – he only succeeded in putting the ball past his own goalkeeper Michel Vorm, which proved to be the only goal of the match.
It was particularly unfortunate because Walker was keen to make up for his part in March’s 3-0 defeat at United in the same fixture and get off to a positive start after being repeatedly hampered by injuries over the last 18 months.
“Last season here [at Old Trafford], even for me I totally hold my hands up,” he said. “Defensively I was shocking. I tried to come here and put things right.
“I had a stop-start season last year. I missed pre-season, which is vital. This season I’ve aimed to hit the ground running.
“With the style we play, the gaffer puts us a lot of trust in us [full-backs] to get forward but we’ve got to get back as well. The main thing is defending and I’ve done well to get back [at Rooney] but I’ve turned the ball into my own net and we’ve lost the game because of it.
“I sprinted a long way to get back there and just tried to stick my foot in there and make him kick my foot rather than the ball, but unluckily it has touched my foot and got into the back of the net.
“I was thinking about hooking it [away] with my right foot but I thought by the time I got round to doing that he would have put it into the back of the net. So I just went for it with my closest foot and that was my left and it’s gone in, which is unlucky, but it’s onwards and upwards from here.
“We’ve played really well in pre-season and kept the ball well, and [against United] we have shown what we’re all about and what we’re going to do this season. I think we’re moving in the right direction.
“I thought we played well. It was a bright start from us, to come here and take the game to United. But we have come away with a loss and that is something we need to put right next Saturday.”
Tottenham’s decision to participate in last week’s Audi Cup has been questioned, given they faced Real Madrid and AC Milan on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, only returning to London on Thursday afternoon ahead of the 12.45pm kick-off at Old Trafford on Saturday.
But Walker insists the trip to Munich had no bearing on the weekend’s result: “No, not at all,” said the right-back, who played throughout the first match against Madrid but had no part in the second clash against Milan 24 hours later.
“The pre-season has been fantastic. It’s been hard work but it’s been fun. I did a sprint in the 90th minute [against United] to get back and help one of my team-mates and I feel fit and raring to go for the season, and hopefully it’s a good one.”
A successful campaign could end with Walker being picked in the England squad that will compete in the European Championship in France next summer, and he admits he has one eye on the international picture.
“I was in the World Cup squad [in 2014] and squads for Euro qualifying games but, due to injury again, I dropped out,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the Euros and hopefully I can be part of the squad.
“I know there’s also tough competition for the England right-back position. Nathaniel Clyne has played fantastically and has got his move to Liverpool, which is well deserved, so it’s going to be difficult with England too. Hopefully I can do my thing for the club and that will lead to an international recall.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs