Kyle Walker returns to England training ahead of World Cup opener

Kyle Walker has given England some good news ahead of the World Cup, returning to full training.

Walker has been a key player for Gareth Southgate’s England in the two major tournaments he has overseen, but there were fears in October that the defender would miss out on a third.

The Manchester City player was injured 41 minutes into last month’s Manchester derby and underwent back surgery shortly afterwards.

The operation and recovery have been successful, good enough for Southgate to include Walker in his World Cup squad.

The squad has since arrived in Qatar, and the defender was able to fully participate in the team’s first training session there.

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So was Kalvin Phillips, who has also struggled with fitness issues so far this season, playing just 53 minutes since joining Man City in the summer.

Given their lack of match practice, either is unlikely to be a threat for the opener against Iran, but could potentially be available for the tougher games with Wales and the USA.

Walker in particular is likely to play a big role in England’s World Cup campaign if he is fit enough. With Reece James injured, he would be a good opportunity to start at right back or right centre-back if Southgate uses a back three.

He played in both positions in England’s run to the Euro 2020 finals last summer, playing in all but one of his nation’s seven matches.

James Maddison missed England’s training session on Thursday as staff look to manage a knee injury.

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