GARETH SOUTHGATE has assured Kyle Walker he will be given every chance to make the World Cup — even if he cannot prove his fitness by playing before the squad is announced.
The 32-year-old Manchester City defender is expected to step up his recovery from groin surgery next week.
And the England boss is keen for Walker to join his 26-man squad, even though he is unlikely to feature for City before the World Cup break.
City’s final Premier League clash is against Brentford on November 12 and that may come too soon for Walker.
Southgate is due to name his squad for Qatar two days before that match and if Walker is close to fitness, he is likely to make the cut, whether or not he is expected to be fit for the opener against Iran on November 21.
Southgate took a similar gamble on Harry Maguire’s fitness before last summer’s Euros — and the move paid off.
With Reece James ruled out by a knee injury, Walker’s ability to play at right-back or on the right side of a defensive three is now even more vital.
The Three Lions management team are keeping in close contact with the player’s camp for updates on his fitness.
In an interview last week, Walker declared himself ‘confident’ of making it to Qatar.
Kieran Trippier is set to start at right wing-back against Iran, with Trent Alexander-Arnold now likely to be in the squad along with his Liverpool team-mate Joe Gomez.
Walker told BBC Radio 5 Live: “My first thought now is getting back for England.
“I’m confident. I’ve been through enough in my career to know my body. I’m well above what they thought I’d be able to do at this point.
“I just feel I can do this. I am going to have to be patient with it. There will be bumps in the road but hopefully, come the selection, I’m included.”
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