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Oct, 11, 2012

Walker: I idolised Phil Jagielka

Kyle Walker could fulfill a childhood dream if he is picked to line up alongside Phil Jagielka in England's World Cup qualifier against San Marino on Friday.

• Wright: Players look scared
• Lack of competition could affect Hart
• Rooney ready to lead young Lions
• Blog: English class divide

Walker has admitted that Jagielka was a strong influence during his junior playing days, having watched the former Sheffield United defender in action as a child.

The Tottenham defender says being in the same camp as a man he idolised is an 'honour', although he is careful not to heap too much praise on Jagielka.

"Phil Jagielka was a hero of mine," Walker said. "I didn't have a poster of him in my room or anything. I wasn't that bad. But I've never told him. I hope his head doesn't grow too big, but just to eat dinner with him is an honour for me.

"Sometimes he tries to go and get me some soup. Instinctively I say: 'You can't be getting me that. Let me get you some soup'."

As a junior at Sheffield United, Walker often watched Jagielka from the stands and he recalls being a ballboy when the 30-year-old was forced into goals against Arsenal.

"I was actually behind his net," Walker said. "He kept on telling me to slow down. I've certainly seen some sights with him."

Walker is almost certain to be selected for his first competitive match with the Three Lions, although Jagielka will face a more nervous wait to see if Roy Hodgson retains him in the starting lineup.

With a toe injury ruling him out of Euro 2012, Walker is relishing the chance to finally make his full senior debut.

"Who wouldn't be excited about this?" he said. "I'm 22 and since the age of seven playing for England is all I've wanted to do. I won't be treating this game any differently to Manchester United or Real Madrid. It doesn't matter to me.

"It's a new experience. But everyone wants to do well when they play against England and seems to turn it up that extra five or 10 per cent.

"I just hope that, if I'm selected on Friday, I can show everyone what I can do in the game. It's a fantastic opportunity for me to get into the team and I've been patient and waited a long time for this.

"There are a lot of quality defenders in the England set-up and whoever puts on the shirt will do a fantastic job."

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