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'Strong' Walker will be back for England, says Guardiola

22:30 IST 30/08/2019
Kyle Walker
The full-back faces strong competition for a starting place with club and country but his Manchester City boss expects him to be ready for the battle

Kyle Walker is facing a fight to keep his starting place for Manchester City and England but Pep Guardiola believes it will bring out the best in him.

The 29-year-old was surprisingly left out for the friendlies with Bulgaria and Kosovo in September with Gareth Southgate opting for Trent Alexander-Arnold, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Kieran Trippier in his 25-man squad.

Walker has started the season well, impressing in City’s opening three matches and Guardiola says that if he maintains his form he will win back his place for the national team.

“He is incredibly strong and he will be back,” Guardiola told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash with Brighton.

“He is back because he played really well in this beginning of the season; and try to understand Wan-Bissaka, Alexander-Arnold, are incredible full-backs too. So it’s the same, he has to continue performing well to come back to the national team.

“When he is stable in the mind, he knows exactly what he has to do, always perform well. And he’s consistent, always to be an average defensively seven, eight, seven, eight all the time so that is what we have to work on with him.”

Walker has been the first-choice right-back at the Etihad Stadium for the past two seasons but faces fresh competition from Cancelo, who joined from Juventus in the summer for €28 million and Brazilian defender Danilo.

Summer signing Joao Cancelo will also put him under pressure for a starting spot at the Premier League champions after the international break, with Guardiola holding him back until now after he missed the majority of pre-season.

The Portuguese international has so far played only 90 seconds for his new club, but Guardiola says he will be ready to step up when the fixture list intensifies in September.

"When we come back after the international break, with Norwich, then travel to Ukraine, then three days later we have another game here and then the cup, that's the start of the real season," Guardiola said.

"Joao, we’re delighted with what we’ve seen but he arrived late and he wasn't in pre-season. There are many things Kyle knows completely and Joao is starting to understand what to do. Maybe tomorrow, maybe after the international break. He needs to be ready and when he is, he will play."