Walker backs youngsters to shine

Next Story

Kyle Walker is sure Tottenham's young players can silence the fanatical PAOK Salonika fans in their Europa League Group A clash in Greece.

After overcoming Hearts in the play-offs, Tottenham's campaign proper starts against the two-time Greek champions. While the competition is nothing but a distraction for Harry Redknapp, PAOK are desperate to make it through to the second phase for the first time in eight years.

PAOK's support is one of the most notorious in Europe and have had their fair share of brushes with the authorities. "When you go to an away game it's important to quieten the crowd," Walker said.

The Greek side had to play their final home game of last season behind closed doors after trouble flared in a previous match, while they were banned from European competition for two years in the 1990s for a similar clash with Paris St Germain fans.

Redknapp's decision to leave several of his stars at home means a number of youngsters will start, but Walker insists their inexperience will not stop them from being able to quell the home support. He added: "We have the players to do that. We just need to play the game we are taught and the rest will take care of itself."

Yago Falque is set to make his Spurs debut and youngsters Tom Carroll, Jake Livermore, Andros Townsend and Harry Kane are also likely to start. Redknapp denied on Tuesday that he was treating the competition with contempt by blooding such young players and Walker backed his manager's stance, adding: "It's up to the manager who he brings here.

"We have a game on Sunday and Stoke on Tuesday. We have to use our squad wisely and the manager has trust in his players. We have to come here and do the business. We have come here to win. If we play to our ability then there is no reason why we can't get the result."

Despite being just 21, Walker will be one of the most senior players in Redknapp's side. The former Sheffield United defender has enjoyed a memorable 2011 after joining Aston Villa on loan in January and quickly establishing himself as the club's first-choice right-back.

His performances meant he became an England squad regular and he would have made his international debut against Holland had the game not been postponed due to rioting in London.

However, he is refusing to get carried away with his progress, despite looking in the reckoning for Euro 2012. I'm all about taking small steps," he said. "I want to cement a first-team place here. The rest will take care of itself. If I am playing well then who knows."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Europa League
Tottenham Hotspur
Stoke City
Andros Townsend
Premier League
Jake Livermore
Sheffield United
Aston Villa
Kyle Walker
Next Story

Read more