Football

Kyle Walker ‘good and ready to go’ after England World Cup opener against Iran

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Kyle Walker has confirmed he will miss England’s World Cup opener against Iran but he will be fit to face United States next Friday.

The Manchester City defender has been battling a groin injury having undergone surgery six weeks ago, but he has won a race against time to be selected by Gareth Southgate.

But while the first match against Iran on Monday comes too soon for the 32-year-old, Walker has given the Three Lions a boost by confirming his availability to face the Stars and Stripes in their second match of Group B on Friday evening.

“To represent your country at a tournament is always a great achievement due to the circumstances leading up to it,” Walker told ITV Football. “Just because of the injury, it was an operation I had and it was touch a go.

“But it’s full credit to the physios, getting me back fit and healthy. I was never worried, I have to believe in myself. I was confident, just about, making sure I prepared right on and off the field.

“If selected, then that’s down to the manager, the first game is a bit too short, but from then onwards I’ll be good and ready to go.”

England’s first training session in Qatar took place against the backdrop of a setting sun as the local call to prayer brought an end to the section open to the media.

All of Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad took to the training pitch at the Al Wakrah Sports Complex to the south of Doha, a finely-manicured surface perfected by the Football Association’s own groundsman, who arrived in the country over the weekend to prepare.

Having been greeted by several hundred fans on their arrival at their nearby hotel base the previous night, England ran out in the 12,000-seater stadium which they hope will be their training location for the next few weeks.

All of Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad took to the training pitch at the Al Wakrah Sports Complex to the south of Doha

(PA)

Midfielder James Maddison described the temperatures as giving the day “a pre-season feel” but England get down to the serious business when they play their opening game against Iran on Monday.

Training in later, cooler conditions will ease the players into the change of temperature, the mercury reaching 33C two hours before the session.

From Thursday, training switches to 12.30 local time and the tank tops sported by the majority of the squad will become custom.

Between sessions in the desert sun, the squad will also be able to enjoy inflatable football darts, a pool table and games consoles in their training complex.

Additional reporting by PA

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