No 'red carpet' for Mbappe during showdown with France, Kyle Walker insists
The England team knows this is their biggest challenge so far, but they're not going to roll out the red carpet for the reigning champions - ITV News Sports Editor Steve Scott reports
There will be no 'red carpet' for French superstar Kylian Mbappe in England's quarter final match on Saturday, right-back Kyle Walker has insisted.
Walker is the man tasked with keeping Mbappe under control during the match.
France's star player is currently in the lead for winning the golden boot with his five goals at the World Cup so far.
Walker said he was prepared to play against Mbappe and said acknowledged he'd had experience with him in the past during four Champions League matches.
He added: "The game is not England v Mbappe. The game is England v France. We take respect that he’s a good player and in good form at the minute but I’m not going to roll out the red carpet for him and tell him to go and score.
"I’m representing my country at a quarter-final of a World Cup. It’s do or die really. If we lose we go home. He’s not going to stand in my way and hopefully winning a World Cup for my country.”
The World Cup holders also boast the likes of Olivier Giroud – who has overtaken Thierry Henry to become France's all-time leading goalscorer – and Antoine Griezmann.
But Walker is not prepared for England to become theatre-goers as he backed Gareth Southgate’s men to show what they can do.
"We take our hats off to them, they are world champions, they have the respect they deserve," Walker said of France.
"They won the last World Cup. But I can assure you that each and every one of us will not be rolling out red carpet for them to go and perform, thinking it’s a theatre for them to showcase their great talent.
"We have also got great talent that we need to be speaking about as well.
"The goals we have scored, the clean sheets we have kept. We just move forward with that.
"To play in a quarter-final of a World Cup is always going to be special. It’s always going to be a bit more special when it’s against France, the reigning world champions."
There have been suggestions Southgate could opt for a back three for the quarter-final, having stuck with a central defensive duo in the first four games.
Asked about his changing role in the different system, Walker replied: "I don’t think much changes really.
"I feel that the system we play whether that’s for Manchester City or for England, I don’t really bomb forward maybe as much as I used to do when I was playing for Tottenham as a wing-back for example.
"It’s about reading the game, reading the opponent, reading the formation that the manager wants you to play in and adapting to that really.
"It’s a team game, it’s not a solo game. I do whatever the manager asks and what is going to benefit the team."
England vs France kicks off at 7pm on Saturday on ITV1.
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