World Cup: Kylian Mbappe receives England warning ahead of Kyle Walker battle | Football | Sport
Kalvin Phillips has insisted that Kyle Walker could be the man to keep Kylian Mbappe in his back pocket when England take on France in the quarter-finals of the World Cup on Saturday. Mbappe is leading the Golden Boot race in Qatar with four goals at the tournament and has been widely tipped to cause England plenty of problems on the right-hand side of the pitch at the Al Bayt Stadium this weekend.
The 23-year-old has torn defences apart with his blistering pace at the World Cup and will be looking to make things difficult for England, who are hoping to reach the semi-finals once again with a famous victory over the defending champions. However, Phillips believes that Walker is quicker than Mbappe and has backed his Manchester City team-mate to keep the Frenchman quiet if he is selected to start at right-back by Gareth Southgate.
“Kyle Walker is the quickest player I’ve ever seen play football,” said Phillips at a press conference on Thursday. “A lot of people ask how fast he is but you can’t really put it into words.
“You just have to see him out on the training pitch or one-vs-one with a really quick player and we’ll see that in a few days. If there’s anyone I’d like to put up against Mbappe to stop him, it’s Kyle Walker, he’s an unbelievable defender and probably the only one that’s quicker than him.”
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Southgate had been urged by several pundits to rest Walker against Senegal in order to keep him fresh ahead of facing France in the quarter-finals, which served to highlight his crucial importance to England’s chances of going far at the World Cup. It seems likely that he will be picked to start in defence on Saturday alongside Luke Shaw, John Stones and Harry Maguire, who Phillips believes is often unfairly singled out as a scapegoat when England fail to perform well.
“We are 100 per cent behind him,” added Phillips when quizzed on recent media criticism of Maguire. “I know he’s not played as much football as he would have liked this season and he gets a lot of stick, which I think is very undeserved.
“He is a top professional and a great footballer. All you have to do is watch him in a major tournament for England and see he is one of the top defenders. He has been for England for a long, long time.
“When we need to block or someone needs to make a challenge, he is always the first one to do it. He has scored some very important goals as well. He has been mocked quite a lot so he is the first person to go to if anything bad happens in this team.”
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