England and Manchester City right-back Kyle Walker has said he will not “roll out a red carpet” for Kylian Mbappe ahead of his side’s meeting with France in the World Cup.
The Three Lions are dey to face France in the quarter-finals in Qatar after beating Senegal 3-0 in the last round.
The game has been spoken about all week, with the role of the in-form Mbappe under discussion. Walker is due to come up against the pacy winger, who is the top scorer in Qatar after taking his tally in the tournament to five goals with a brace in France’s round-of-16 win over Poland.
Both players have met three times at club level, with Walker winning twice and losing once.
The 32-year-old defender has insisted he will be ready when both sides meet on Saturday.
Speaking during a news conference at England’s training base in Al Wakrah on Wednesday, Walker saidvia ESPN: “I understand what I need to do, and that is obviously to stop him. It is probably easier said than done, but I don’t underestimate myself.
“I’ve played him before and I’ve come up against a lot of great players in my time playing for England, Man City and the clubs that I played for.
“So I have to treat it as another game. I have to take obviously extra care and give him the respect he deserves but not too much respect because he is also playing England and we can cause them problems. OK, it is going to be a tough game, but not one player makes a team.
“The game is not England v Mbappe. It is England v France. We respect that he is a good player in good form at the minute, but I’m not going to roll out a red carpet for him and tell him to go and score. I am representing my country in the quarterfinal of a World Cup so it is do or die, really. If we lose, we go home. He is not going to stand in my way of hopefully winning a World Cup for my country.”
Walker also hinted that he is not yet ready to hang up his international boots after the World Cup.
“I’m a guy that takes a game at a time. I don’t really look towards the future. I can assure you now that I will go for as long as possible, as long as I feel it is right for myself, my family and also the nation and if the manager thinks that’s right.
“I feel really fit. I feel strong. I feel energetic. I still want to achieve things that I’ve already achieved and I still haven’t achieved in football. And the hunger is still there. I feel great. It is not going to happen any time soon but again, who knows in the future what will happen? It is going to come to an end one day, isn’t it?
“In 2024, I’m 34. As long as I am performing well and feeling good in my body and the manager wants to pick me first and foremost, then we’ll see. But again, I’m really not thinking too far into the future. That’s not to bypass your question, it is one game at a time which is on Saturday and then we’ll look and see what happens from there on.”