In the absence of Kyle Walker, Kyle Walker-Peters played right back for Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday — a sentence that does not contain a misprint.
By one of football’s most bizarre coincidences, the 20-year-old Walker-Peters made his Premier League debut in Spurs’ 2-0 win at Newcastle United by replacing his near namesake who was sold to Manchester City for 50 million pounds ($65.06 million).
So assured was the new man that for long stretches fans struggled to notice any drop in quality on Spurs’ flank and Walker-Peters was named man of the match in a comfortable Tottenham win.
Walker-Peters, a product of the Tottenham academy, got his chance only because Walker’s natural replacement Kieran Trippier suffered an ankle injury and chairman Daniel Levy has yet to spend any money this summer.
Last week manager Mauricio Pochettino said Walker-Peters was not ready and the club were actively seeking a new right back.
“We cannot think that if Kieran is weeks out of the team that Kyle can replace him,” said Pochettino after they played Juventus. “I think we are working (to get another right back).”
Walker-Peters featured in all of Spurs’ pre-season games in the United States and played more than 45 minutes last weekend against Juventus at Wembley Stadium.
With no replacement secured, Pochettino told Walker-Peters on Saturday that he would be in the side. “I found out yesterday in training,” the player said on Sunday. “I was a bit nervy but nerves are good.
“I was buzzing to make my Premier League debut, get three points and get man of the match.”
Walker-Peters came from the academy that also produced midfielder Harry Winks and was a member of the England under-20 side who won the World Cup in South Korea this year.
He seldom looked out of place against Newcastle, days after Tottenham’s injured left back, Danny Rose, caused a storm by saying he would consider a move if an attractive enough offer came in because no-one was paid enough at Spurs.
Although Rose was soon forced into a public apology, his case for a pay rise will hardly have been strengthened by the presence of such obvious young talent coming through the ranks.
If Levy still has not opened his cheque book by next Sunday, and with Trippier unlikely to be fit, an even bigger test awaits Walker-Peters at Wembley next Sunday when Spurs play their first home game against Chelsea. The signs are he is ready for it.