Kyle Walker is winning his World Cup fitness race as the defender revealed he is targeting a return to action in England’s second group game against the United States next week.
The 32-year-old has not played for Manchester City since October 2 and has undergone groin surgery in a bid to be fit for Qatar.
Having been included in Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad, the England manager said he expected Walker to be ready for action before the end of the group stage.
He trained alongside his team-mates during England’s first session at their base at the Al Wakrah Sports Complex on Wednesday.
But Walker admits Monday’s opening game against Iran will come too soon and is instead aiming to be in contention for the USA game on November 25.
“That is down to the manager,” he told ITV Football on being ready for the start of the finals.
I think this one is a special one due to the circumstances leading up to it
“I think probably the first game is too short, but from then onwards I will be good and ready to go.”
The 70-cap veteran was named in the team of the tournament as England reached the final of Euro 2020 last summer and he is raring to go for this World Cup.
“To represent your country at any tournament is always a great achievement, but I think this one is a special one due to the circumstances leading up to it,” he said.
“Just through the injury. It was an operation I had and it was touch and go, but that’s full credit to the physios here and also at Man City for getting me back fit and healthy.
“I was never worried. I always have to believe in myself. As soon as the professor said I needed the surgery I was very confident that I made sure I prepared right, on and off the field, and did the right things correctly and moving forward I knew I would be alright.”