England: Kyle Walker praises calm Marc Guehi amid anxious old heads against Serbia

England: Kyle Walker praises calm Marc Guehi amid anxious old heads against Serbia

Kyle Walker has heaped praise on tournament novice Marc Guehi’s assured performance in Sunday’s victory over Serbia, on a night when even England’s old heads admitted to being “anxious”.

The Three Lions got their campaign off to a winning start despite a nervy showing in Gelsenkirchen, with Jude Bellingham’s header decisive in a 1-0 victory.

Guehi’s performance has earned glowing reviews in the aftermath, with the Crystal Palace defender stepping up to fill the void left at centre-back by Harry Maguire’s absence through injury.

"Marc, from the moment he stepped into the camp he properly stepped into that role,” Manchester City star Walker said. “You can see, obviously, there's going to be pressure. I think everyone feels pressure.

He didn't put foot wrong ... we can form a good partnership along that back line

Kyle Walker

“I'm the oldest head in the camp and I still go out onto the pitch and you still feel a bit anxious, you feel a bit nervous, just because you want to do everyone proud.

“But Marc, I thought he was fantastic. He didn't put foot wrong and hopefully that has got his feelings right now and settle the nerves a little bit, and we can form a good partnership along that back line.”

While there has been much talk of the fresh blood injected into Southgate’s squad this summer, Guehi was the only player to start the weekend’s opener who has not previously played at a major tournament.

The 23-year-old missed much of the second half of the club season through injury and admitted to still finding full fitness during England’s warm-up matches, but hailed an otherwise experienced backline - featuring Walker, John Stones and Kyle Walker - for steering him through a tense affair.

“You’re nervous, for sure,” Guehi told the FA’s Lions Den show. “It just helps when you have so many experienced players around you. Coming into a backline, I think that’s the guys fourth or fifth major tournament, for most of them.

“They made it easy for me to come in and just play and feel relaxed. I just really enjoyed the occasion and I’m really grateful.”

Guehi appears certain to keep his place for Thursday evening’s second group match against Denmark, but Luke Shaw is contention to make his first appearance of the tournament at left-back, though it is more likely that Kieran Trippier will again start and the Man United man feature off the bench.