Kieran Trippier no longer has to deal with Kyle Walker at Tottenham, but their battle to become England’s first-choice is only just getting started.
Friends since representing the country’s Under-19 side together, the pair brought the best out of one another in their two years as team-mates at White Hart Lane.
Walker held onto the starting spot for much of that time, with Mauricio Pochettino then turning to Trippier for some of the big matches towards the end of the campaign.
The 26-year-old is now first-choice right-back at Spurs after Walker joined Manchester City in the summer, but their friendly rivalry continues with England.
“I didn’t really think about it too much obviously because we’re still team-mates and there were still games towards the end of the season,” Trippier said when asked about Walker’s exit.
“When it came to the end of the season and Walks left to go to Manchester City, he’s moved on for his career now and I’ve just got to focus on my career, keep working hard on the training field and try to make the right-back slot my own.
“Obviously I got called up by England at the back end of last season and we’re both fighting for the same spot again.
“But you know it is going to be no different to when we were at club football.
“Whoever plays, and obviously we’ve got Nathaniel Clyne, who is a brilliant player, there’s tough competition.
“I will just keep doing what I was doing since I was younger and keep working hard.”
Gareth Southgate may well benefit from selecting Walker and Trippier over others, though, given the way they communicate on and off the field.
“Whoever was getting the nod to play and (the other) could see during the game things weren’t right,” he said.
“Obviously you can see more of the bigger picture when you’re on the bench, and when I was on the bench and say they were targeting Walks or anything, I used to help him out and just give him my ideas in the back of his mind.
“But you just try and help each other as much as we can, even on the training field. Half-time, full-time, we used to talk about the games and stuff and I thought it was very good and interesting.
“Before the games, whoever was playing would talk about the opponent on the wing.
“Building up to the week, talking about the players who we were playing against, who we could be facing, so we had a lot of discussions and, yeah. just tried to help each other as much as we could.”
This is a “big season” for Trippier as he looks to help Tottenham enjoy a successful campaign and secure a place at next summer’s World Cup.
The 26-year-old certainly has the bloody-mindedness to thrive, underlined by his bold decision to leave Manchester City for Burnley in search of regular first-team football.
“My situation was difficult,” Trippier said. “Obviously the money started to come into Man City at the time.
“I knew I wasn’t going to get into the team because I had Micah Richards and (Pablo) Zabaleta in front of me.
“I went to Burnley, I was playing every week and then I decided to stay there, to sign there permanently just to play games and to be happy playing week in, week out and there’s nothing better than that.
“If there’s young players out there who are not playing, I’d obviously advise them to do what I did – just go out, play games and be happy playing in the Football League.”
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