LONDON (Reuters) – Kyle Walker remains “an incredible player” in the eyes of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola despite the right back once again being left out of the England squad.
The powerhouse has been a key player in City’s two Premier League titles under Guardiola but appears to have slipped down England manager Gareth Southgate’s pecking order.
He has been left out of the squad for the second time this season, with Southgate preferring Atletico Madrid’s Kieran Trippier and Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold as his options for this month’s England’s Euro 2020 qualifiers in the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.
Walker, who has 48 caps for England, also faces stiff competition from Manchester United’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka who is not in the squad because of illness.
Guardiola said he respected Southgate’s opinion but he was full of praise for Walker on Friday.
“He came here being an outstanding player and he is still an outstanding player,” Guardiola said when asked about the latest England snub for the 29-year-old.
“Physically strong, fast; we try to help him since we are together to be a better player. Walker can do everything but Gareth has his opinion, he made his selection and he decided for the last two times and Kyle and I respect it.
“It’s a big challenge for Kyle to show how good he is, my opinion doesn’t change if he is in the national team or not — he remains an incredible footballer.”
Walker will likely be stationed at right back for Sunday’s Premier League home clash against Wolverhampton Wanderers when City could find themselves eight points adrift of Liverpool by kickoff.
Playmaker Kevin de Bruyne will miss out though because of a groin injury, Guardiola confirmed.
“It’s not a big problem, he will be ready after the international break,” he said.
The in-form Belgian playmaker suffered the injury in last weekend’s win over Everton and missed Tuesday’s Champions League victory over Dinamo Zagreb.
Guardiola said he was wary of a Wolves side that appears to be rediscovering the form of last season and beat Turkish club Besiktas away in the Europa League on Thursday.
“Yesterday they took an incredible result,” Guardiola said. “I saw the game and they were so solid as expected. At the end, they have a team to make you suffer in the Premier League.
“They know exactly what they have to do, three or four seasons together and there is a really impressive defensive structure. We have to be smart to take a result.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Clare Fallon)