Belfast Telegraph

Walker shrugs off 'traitor' taunts by Dier as banter

 

By Simon Peach

Kyle Walker laughed off Eric Dier and Dele Alli's baiting of him on England's flight to Malta, with Gareth Southgate defending his players' social media antics.

On a day when most people's attention was focused on the impending transfer deadline, eyebrows were raised by a live Instagram post by Alli.

Manchester City's Walker was called a "traitor" during an exchange with former Tottenham team-mates Alli and Dier, only to retort that there was no problem when the latter was interested in a move to Manchester United.

The pair are pictured hugging after the post that Walker believes has been blown out of proportion, calling his former club team-mates "the Chuckle brothers".

"It's just a bit of friendly banter," he said ahead of tonight's World Cup qualifier. "I think it's been took a bit too far, me, Del, Harry (Kane), Eric, we're all very close. I've know them for a good six, seven years now.

"It's all just a bit of friendly banter, I wouldn't read too much into it."

Asked if Dier called him a traitor, Walker said with a laugh: "Yeah, it's just kind of one of them things that you just have a bit of fun about.

"You know, me and Eric have a good relationship on and off the field.

"We have banter together and I take it, he takes it. That's just about it really."

Walker said there was no need to make up as "we never fell out" and England boss Southgate had no problem with it.

"Well, why not? We spent forever saying the players don't connect with the supporters, they're never open, they're never engaging," he said.

"And when we do, we try and kill them, so what do we want?

"We've got a great group of lads who like to have fun at the right times.

"They know the balance of when to work and when to have fun, and that's important. We have got to be able to do both because playing for England should be fun.

"It's an incredibly proud thing to do but it is also got to be enjoyable and sometimes we forget that.

"But in terms of what they say to each other and how they carry on, well, if that what was what was said then that's mild!"

Elsewhere in Group F, Scotland boss Gordon Strachan will not let worry affect his preparations ahead of tonight's crunch clash against Lithuania.

The Scots are six points behind leaders England, four adrift of Slovakia and three behind Slovenia, and realistically need four wins in their last four matches to keep alive prospects of making Russia next summer.

Speaking at the LFF Stadium, Strachan said: "I don't worry. There is plenty of time to worry after the occasion.

"I said to the players at Coventry when I first got the job when we were sitting bottom of the league, 'don't worry about it, we are not there yet. Only worry when we get relegated', and we stayed up.

"I am aware of what's going on. I understand the importance but you relish it. It is a different type of challenge but it is a challenge."

  • Malta v England, World Cup Group F qualifier: Ta' Qali Stadium , tonight, 7.45pm

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