Gareth Southgate handed BOOST as Kyle Walker looks set to be fit in time for Qatar World Cup


Gareth Southgate has received encouraging news regarding Kyle Walker’s recovery from surgery as Joe Gomez emerges as an option for the England boss’ World Cup squad.

Walker is almost two weeks into his recovery from groin surgery and is in a race against time to be fit for the tournament that starts in little over four weeks time.

The Manchester City star is vital to Southgate’s plans and is one of the team’s guaranteed starters at full fitness.

The England camp are keeping close tabs on the right-back’s recovery from the operation and there is now hope Walker could be selected in the final 26-man squad on November 10.

It seems unlikely that Walker will be available for the opening game against Iran on November 21, but he could be selected with a view to playing a part in the latter stages of the tournament.

It is a tough call for Southgate, who knows how vital Walker is to his plans but the fact he has received positive reports regarding his progress is understood to have encouraged the England camp.

However, news on fellow injured right-back Reece James is less encouraging. The Chelsea right-back is expected to be in a knee brace right up until the start of the tournament after suffering a ligament injury against AC Milan last week.

Because there is only one week between the final Premier League game and the start of the tournament, it is understood Southgate is far less likely to take a chance on a player who hasn’t played regular football ahead of the tournament.

In normal circumstances, players would have three to four weeks in camp before the start of the tournament meaning Southgate and his medical staff can keep closer tabs on their recovery.

Harry Maguire was selected for last year’s Euros squad despite missing the end of the season through injury, but eventually he was able to play in the final group game against the Czech Republic before taking a lead role in England’s route to the final.

It appears unlikely that Southgate will take two injured players to the World Cup given the shorter than usual turnaround.

And if Southgate does take a risk, the fact Walker will be more advanced in his recovery is likely to put him ahead of James.

The setbacks to both his leading right-backs has forced Southgate to reconsider the defensive make-up of his squad in recent days, with Liverpool’s Gomez back on the radar.

Gomez was excellent in the win over Manchester City on Sunday and will hope for an extended run in Jurgen Klopp’s side.

And if the former Charlton defender, who can play at centre-back and right-back, can impress and play enough between now and the squad deadline, he has a chance of gatecrashing Southgate’ party.

Arsenal’s Ben White is another who could benefit from the injuries to Walker and James.


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