Search

Naughton’s left to ponder wisdom of battling with Walker at Spurs

11:58 05 March 2014

Kyle Naughton

Kyle Naughton

Archant

Kyle Naughton is used to competing with Kyle Walker to play in his favoured right-back spot – and he is used to making way for his younger team-mate.

Kyle WalkerKyle Walker

A 20-year-old Naughton was the first-choice right-back at Sheffield United for the vast majority of the 2008/09 season, making 50 appearances as the Blades reached the Championship play-off finals.

However, Walker broke into the team at the end of that campaign, starting the final two league games and the three ensuing play-off matches – and Naughton was moved to left-back to accommodate him. It has become an all-too familiar story.

At the time, Naughton was an England Under-21 international and he was named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year.

Everton bid £5million for his services in the summer of 2009, while Aston Villa were believed to be interested, but Spurs swooped to sign him – and they took Walker too, agreeing a double deal thought to be worth around £9million.

Nearly five years on, Naughton is probably still questioning the wisdom of his decision, and continuing to compete with Walker, who has overtaken him at club and international level.

In 2009/10 Spurs had Vedran Corluka and Alan Hutton. And, although Naughton and Walker both made the odd appearance for the Lilywhites, they spent most of their time out on loan.

Walker went back to Sheffield United and then aided QPR’s promotion challenge before making the step up to Aston Villa, while Naughton spent time with Middlesbrough and Leicester.

Walker’s spell with Villa was a key period, proving his Premier League quality – and he started the 2011/12 campaign as Spurs’ first-choice right-back, while Naughton was loaned out again, this time to Norwich.

Walker has not looked back, winning the PFA Young Player of the Year award in April 2012 and breaking into the England squad.

Naughton has never ousted him and, while Walker has made 132 appearances for Spurs, Naughton has played just 52 games, becoming a squad player and spending much of his time playing out of position at left-back.

Asked to reflect on his Spurs career to date, Naughton said: “It didn’t start off too well, I didn’t play many games and I went out on loan.

“I’ve been on quite a few loans since I’ve been here, which is always good, I believe, for everyone.

“This year and last year it hasn’t looked too bad. I think I played 25 games or something (26) last year and this season, with Tim [Sherwood] coming in, I’ve played quite a few already.”

Looking back at his arrival alongside Walker – a friend, team-mate and rival – Naughton said: “In some senses you could say it was strange, but then again I went out on loan quite a bit, so it wasn’t a case of fighting [with him] because I was trying to do my thing to come back and try to play again here.

“But it’s quite difficult when someone’s doing so well – he’s broken into the England squad. Sometimes you have to say ‘fair enough’. He’s doing very well.

“He’s taken off over the last few years hasn’t he? He went on loan back to Sheffield, and then he went to [QPR and] Villa and then he came back to Tottenham, and he’s never really looked back since, breaking into the England set-up. He’s definitely one of the top right-backs around.”

The question is how long Naughton will stick around to sit in Walker’s shadow and, although he has dutifully filled in at left-back when required, he is fully aware of where his strengths are.

“I’m not going to lie, I’m a right-back,” he said. “That’s the position I want to play, but it has been difficult with Walker doing so well.

“Obviously I’m not wishing anything on him, but he tends to play a full season without getting injured.

“That’s my preferred side but if something happens then I’m willing to play anywhere – midfield, up front, wherever. Obviously, left-back’s come up quite a bit and I’ve played there.

“I’m 25 now and there is a stage where you think ‘am I going to be number one?’ And that’s what I’m looking for, I want to be playing every single week and I want to be playing regularly.

“I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but if I can’t hold down a first-team spot then maybe I do have to look elsewhere.”

Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs

0 comments

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Sports News

07:30
Middlesex bowler Tim Murtagh

With just a month of the season remaining, Middlesex appear better-placed to become county champions than at any time since their last title 23 years ago.

11:38
Gary McCann has played for and managed Hendon in memorable FA Cup ties. Pic: Andrew Aleksiejczuk

In the latest of a series of features casting the spotlight on local football fans, David Ballheimer reveals his favourite players and his most memorable matches during his time following Hendon.

Yesterday, 22:30
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha (right) could soon be lining up alongside Tottenham's Victor Wanyama (left) after Spurs made a move to sign the 23-year-old today

Mauricio Pochettino admits he would like to sign a pacy attacking midfielder before the end of the transfer window as Tottenham seek to bring Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha to White Hart Lane.

Yesterday, 14:02
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino admits he is frustrated that a host of his players will be departing for international duty again after this weekend’s round of fixtures.

Yesterday, 10:15
Laura Hirai in action for the Great Britain Under-19 team at the ESF Junior Womens European Softball Championship in Barcelona

Like most 16-year-olds, Laura Hirai’s primary concern today (Thursday) is her GCSE results. But four days after the end of the Rio 2016 Olympics, when the baton was passed to Tokyo and a new four-cycle began, the teenager is also dreaming about being involved in the 2020 Games.

Yesterday, 09:40
Wingate & Finchley goalkeeper Shane Gore. Pic: Martin Addison

Filling the well-worn boots of Bobby Smith doesn’t faze Shane Gore – it’s actually a case of déjà vu for Wingate & Finchley’s new No1.

Yesterday, 09:11
Hendon midfielder Sam Murphy

Hendon duo Scott Cousins and Sam Murphy are aiming to guide England to their best ever performance at the European Six-a-side Championships later this week.

Yesterday, 08:00
Tottenham's Toby Alderweireld (left) battles with Crystal Palace's Connor Wickham during Saturday's Premier League clash at White Hart Lane. Pic: PA

Toby Alderweireld says Tottenham’s players are looking forward to testing themselves against some of the best clubs in Europe and playing at Wembley Stadium ahead of today’s (Thursday’s) Champions League draw.

PROMOTED CONTENT

The showroom is located in Hayes

After 25 years as a trade-only business, family-run door manufacturers Composite Door Master are set to open their first public showroom in Hayes this weekend.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate sport

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

You could win £15,000 to spend on either their mortgage or a deposit towards the home of their dreams

Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a period of time when you simply don’t have to worry about finding the money each month to pay your mortgage? When you don’t have to put money aside from your monthly income, or worry about having to afford other essential outgoings?

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate that one lucky winner will receive four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All runners up will get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now