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

11:58 05 March 2014

Kyle Naughton

Kyle Naughton


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


Latest Sport Stories

Fri, 11:56
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho

Former Tottenham and Chelsea midfielder Micky Hazard says Blues manager Jose Mourinho has lacked dignity this season and believes the Portuguese could benefit from showing greater humility.

Fri, 10:51
Arsenal fans show their colours and support in the stands. Picture: Nick Potts/PA

In our weekly Arsenal fan column, Alex Bellotti suggests the sanctity of match-going is being replaced by passionate fan communities online.

Thu, 20:00
Mauricio Pochettino (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Harry Kane fired Tottenham into the knockout stages of the Europa League as they finally overcame stubborn Group J minnows Qarabag 1-0 in Baku.

Thu, 19:50
Maksim Medvedev of Qarabag challenged by Christian Eriksen  (Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images)

Spurs beat Qarabag 1-0 to qualify for the Europa League last 16 in Azerbaijan, here’s how we rated the players.

Thu, 18:36
Surrey winners of the Division 2 LV County Championship  (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

English cricket will break with tradition in 2016 after the England and Wales Cricket Board announced a new rule which will see the forsaking of the toss.

Thu, 12:24
Haringey Borough manager Tom Loizou. Pic: Tony Gay

Jerome Martelli struck the decisive goal as Haringey Borough earned a crucial home win in Saturday’s basement battle against Heybridge and climbed out of the relegation zone in Ryman League Division One North.

Thu, 12:05
Andreas Sotiri scored a try in his first game for Haringey Rhinos. Pic: Tony Gay

Andreas Sotiri scored a try on his debut for Haringey Rhinos’ Under-14s as a side featuring a number of young players put in an encouraging performance, despite their defeat to Chingford.

Thu, 11:56
Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino

Baku, Azerbaijan. The Spurs squad are halfway through a 5,000-mile round trip and face FK Qarabag this evening just 64 hours prior to another London derby - Chelsea are the visitors for a midday kick-off on Sunday at White Hart Lane.

Most read sport

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


MAC Makeup

MAC are renowned for their flawless, fabulous make up that is used worldwide by the stars. You too can have the chance to have the perfect makeup to suit your needs with £1,000 to spend on all the glam goodies you like!


You are never far from an Argos, wherever in the country you may be. They are like a magical cavern where whatever you need they seem to have it out the back behind the counter. So why not put them to the test with this great MyOffers competition to win £1000 to spend in-store.

Digital Edition

Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder