Gareth Southgate admits Kyle Walker’s long-term future in England could be in jeopardy
Boss Gareth Southgate admits Kyle Walker’s long-term future in England could be in jeopardy.
The Manchester City right-back is under investigation by police after allegedly embarrassing himself in a bar but is included in Southgate’s squad to face Italy and Ukraine this month.
The alleged incident is said to have happened after City’s 2-0 Premier League win over Newcastle in early March.
Walker previously broke lockdown rules in 2020 and Southgate then warned how off-field behavior will affect selection.
Southgate has defended the 32-year-old’s call-up and believes there is nothing stopping him from being included, but conceded if Walker has a case to answer it could jeopardize his future in England.
He said: “I don’t want to get too hypothetical, but there was no compelling reason not to choose him in the squad. If that changes we’ll have to review the situation and he would understand that too, but for now we’re where we are.
“I think when I talk to a player it’s always between me and the player. I understand the additional scrutiny of the situation, but I don’t think I can answer that any other way.”
Walker is brought into the squad by Ivan Toney, who faces a possible ban for breaking better regulations.
Toney is still awaiting a verdict from the Football Association after being charged with 262 breaches of the FA Gambling Rules, with the possibility of a lengthy suspension.
But Southgate wants the Brentford striker, who turned 27 on Thursday, to bring his own brand of mayhem to the international side.
“I also like his confidence on the pitch. I saw him at Arsenal and he went to that pitch thinking he was going to wreak havoc that day,” he said.
“It’s a good sign, you need it when you play for your country. The challenge is always converting from one environment and bringing the same mentality and beliefs to the next. We hope to give him the opportunity to do that.”
Southgate returns for another EURO qualifier, starting March 23 in Naples against Italy before hosting Group C Ukraine on March 26.
He pondered his future ahead of the World Cup before England faced France in the quarter-finals in Qatar but is full of energy again as he tries to go one better after losing the Euro 2020 final to Italy on penalties.
He said: “I’ve seen fan bases where they would almost rather the team lose so they can move on to the next manager. If I had felt before the tournament that would have given the team a free hit, I would have made that decision.
“When we left Wembley (against Germany in September) it didn’t feel like it.
“It wouldn’t be about doing it just because I had a little bit of stick because that’s the job. But I didn’t want to get in the way of the team’s performance.
“Now we have to start all over again. We have to have the humility to park that, yes we want to be European champions and we have had a lot of experience that could help us get there but as our opponents discovered next week you can get into trouble very quickly in the qualifying.
“We have to respect the challenge that qualifying has in store for us.
“I think we can (win Euro 2024). That’s the challenge. I don’t think players need any more proof of what’s possible. They’ve basically played in the biggest games of world football Bar One.
“They have had results against most of the top teams but we need to do that more consistently.
“The scenario of going to Italy where we haven’t won in decades (1961) is a classic of the kind of game where we have to start winning. If we as a team are looking for the next step, then this is it.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/gareth-southgate-italy-kyle-walker-england-ivan-toney-b2302627.html Gareth Southgate admits Kyle Walker’s long-term future in England could be in jeopardy