England will not roll out the red carpet for Kylian Mbappe and France

Kyle Walker insists England will not roll out the red carpet for France’s great entertainers in Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final clash.

Most of the talk since the tie was confirmed has been about Kylian Mbappe and how England can stop a man leading the golden boot race with his five goals in Qatar.

The World Cup holders also boast the likes of Olivier Giroud – who surpassed Thierry Henry to become Les Bleus’ all-time top scorer – and Antoine Griezmann.

But Walker isn’t prepared for England to be a theater-goer as he’s backed Gareth Southgate’s men to show what they can do.

“We take our hats off to them, they’re world champions, they get the respect they deserve,” said France’s Walker.

“They won the last World Cup. But I can assure you that none of us will be rolling out the red carpet for them to go and perform, thinking it is a theater to showcase their great talent.

“We also have a great talent that we need to talk about. The goals we scored, the clean sheets we kept. Let’s get on with that.

“Playing in a World Cup quarter-final will always be special. It will always be a little bit more special when it’s against France, the reigning world champions. It will be a very tough match that we know and that we are waiting with enthusiasm”.

Walker is likely to be the man tasked with keeping Mbappé quiet at the Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday night and has a track record, having faced the Paris St Germain forward four times in the Champions League.

“Obviously it will help because I’ve played against him several times for Manchester City against PSG,” Walker said of his battle with Mbappé.

“He is a fantastic player, in excellent form. It won’t be an easy task. As a professional footballer you want to play against the best and he is one of the best, if not the best, in the world right now.

“Do I understand the goal? Of course I know. I understand what I have to do and this is obviously to stop it.

“That’s probably easier said than done, but I’m not underestimating myself. I’ve played it before and come across great players before when playing for England, Manchester City and other clubs I’ve played for.

Walker faced Mbappe at club level (Martin Rickett/PA)

“I have to treat it like another game. I have to be very careful and give him the respect he deserves, but not too much respect because he also plays for England and we can cause problems for them too. It will be a tough game but no players make the team.

“The match is not England against Mbappe. The match is England against France. We respect he’s a good player and in good shape at the moment, 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 in the quarter-finals of a World Cup. It’s really do or die. If we lose we go home. It won’t hinder me and I hope to win a World Cup for my country.”

There have been suggestions that Southgate may opt for a three-man back for the quarter-finals, having remained with a central defensive duo for the first four games.

When asked about his role change in the different system, Walker replied: “I don’t think it changes much actually.

“I feel that the system we play in, both for Manchester City and England, doesn’t push me very far forward maybe as much as I did when I was playing for Tottenham at full-back for example.

“It’s about reading the game, reading the opponent, reading the formation that the manager wants you to play in and really adapting to that.

“It’s a team game, it’s not a solo game. I do whatever the manager asks and what will benefit the team.

At 32, Walker may be the oldest member of Southgate’s World Cup squad but, according to FIFA stats, remains the fastest.

Kyle Walker, right, thinks he's the fastest player in the England team

Kyle Walker, right, believes he is the fastest player in the England squad (Peter Byrne/PA)

“Just listen to FIFA,” he replied when asked what his message to his teammates would be.

While he’s still the one who sets the pace, Walker insists experience can also be key to keeping things tight, rather than relying solely on his speed.

“You have to use some nous,” he added.

“You can’t be a motorboat without a driver. You have to use your brain when needed and I can’t get close to him like I would other players, that’s just the nature of the game.

“I remember playing against Theo Walcott one time and I was getting so close to him and then all of a sudden he gets behind you and that’s your lesson taught.

“You have to make sure the mistakes you make aren’t costly mistakes. Anyone who plays right back will get the better of you once, twice, three times a game, he’s a great player. You have to make those occasions as cheap and inexpensive as possible.

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