Gareth Southgate explains how Kyle Walker’s new Man City role has boosted England

Walker&aposs future has been up in the air in recent months after falling out of the City starting XI for the Champions League final. A move to Bayern Munich was on, and then it was off, with the defender set to sign a new contract at the Etihad until 2026. However, Walker voiced his frustration after England drew with Ukraine on Saturday that the contract still hadn&apost been signed.

After settling on staying at City, Walker has taken an increased leadership role after captain Ilkay Gundogan left and deputy Kevin De Bruyne has been injured.

According to Southgate, that has sparked a change in Walker that has been noticeable on England duty this week.

“He has (got better with age). It doesnt always happen,” said the England manager. “Its not only playing but also around training, the way I hear him speak when hes interviewed, his influence on the group, hes become a really mature leader for us.

“His all-round game he has great composure in a position where you dont always find it. Our senior players were important and he was the pick against Ukraine.

“Hes got huge experience of winning big matches. I pulled him aside two or three days into the training this week because his focus was really clear, the way he was organising on the pitch. Hes enjoying the extra responsibility hes had at his club and I know hes ready to embrace that with us as well.”

However, Southgate admitted that he has had to talk Walker out of international retirement twice recently as the player was in and out of the City side, while facing stiff competition for the right-back spot with England.

“Ive talked him out of retirement from international football twice,” said Southgate. “After the Euros [in 2021] and after the World Cup [in 2022]. I think he loves being here and hes wanted to keep going and now hes thinking about how many caps can he get.

“Hes critical to us. If were talking about world-class players in their position in our team then hes probably one of them. He didnt realise how much value we have for him and how important he is for us.”

The transfer window has been a hectic one and City have been busy, with high-profile signings and sales aplenty.

City snapped up Croatian pair Mateo Kovacic and Josko Gvardiol from Chelsea and RB Leipzig respectively with the latest addition being Jeremy Doku. Wolves&apos Matheus Nunes then joined the Blues on deadline day. In terms of outgoings, Treble winner Ilkay Gundogan departed for Barcelona, Aymeric Laporte and Riyad Mahrez moved to Saudi Arabia, and Cole Palmer completed a shock move to Chelsea.

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Addressing those retirement thoughts, Walker admitted that the competition with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Keiran Trippier and Reece James had seen him consider focussing on club football, but ultimately decided to continue.