Kyle Walker came into Euro 2016 with his place in the team in doubt, but after impressive showings pre and during the tournament, he has not only cemented his place as the number one right back, but also as one of England’s top performers.
It seemed there would be a battle between himself and Nathaniel Clyne as to who would start at right back from England, with Clyne often picked ahead of the Tottenham man. However club performances as well as consistent ones whilst playing for England have swayed Hodgson to opt for the Tottenham man.
Ex-players, pundits and the public suggested Clyne would be the more suitable choice, with the Liverpool man holding an edge in defensive solidarity, but barely a week after the tournament has started the decision to opt for Walker over Clyne has been justified.
Much has always been made about Kyle Walker’s concentration in games, the full back has always been prone to a mistake which has raised questions over his reliability in the defensive third of the pitch, but his ability at the other end of the pitch have never been in question and have already highlighted how important he can be for both Tottenham and England.
We’re starting to see now a more consistent, all round solid Walker who has become arguably one of the first names on the team sheet after two good performances against Russia and Wales.
1-0 down at halftime to your British rivals, it was a scenario to test Hodgson as well as the players, who needed to react to turn this game around otherwise they could’ve been on the brink of a potential early exit.
And Walker did just that. His second half display was exactly what was needed effecting the game going forward but also staying composed to do a job in his half of the pitch in the rare occasion a subdued Wales dared to venture forward.
The Tottenham man was a thorn in Wales’ side all second half, helping Hodgson’s men come from a goal down at half time to snatch a last gasp winner.
Hodgson has tried to have his sides on the front foot, dominate the game with the ball and take the game to the opposition so to have a full back like Walker is a huge asset which must be utilised.
In some aspects he becomes like a second winger, who plays high and wide, opposing wingback Neil Taylor struggled to cope with the intensity of Walker, who given the opportunity would jump at the chance of running at the Swansea City man, he simply couldn’t handle him.
He wasn’t spectacular, others have taken the headlines, but has done enough to earn a new fan in Rio Ferdinand who claimed the 26 year old is one of the best in his position in the world and going on the season he had as well as his recent showings for England, it’s hard to argue against this.
He helped build momentum for England in the second half, something the team struggled with in the first 45 minutes. Slow one paced football gave way to quick penetrative attacks that unsettled the Welsh, refusing to allow them to organise and re shape.
His surges down the line, getting corner after corner all contributed into making Wales retreat, they became fearful of England going forward with Walker being at the forefront of that.
He’s proved his early doubters wrong with two impressive displays, the challenge for the Kyle Walker is whether he can sustain his fine form and become a mainstay in this England side for the rest of the tournament.