Kieran Trippier has injected much-needed toughness into the Newcastle defense and is recovering under Premier League pressure, according to former England full-back Paul Parker.
But the Italia 90 star admits the Magpies right-back still has a lot of work to do if he is to make his way onto the World Cup plane in England.
Trippier, 32, arrived at St. James’ Park from Atletico Madrid in January and played a crucial role in Newcastle’s rise to fourth in the Premier League table.
And with fellow England right-backs Kyle Walker and Reece James in a race against time to be fit for Qatar, that form catapulted Trippier into the Gareth Southgate equation.
Parker, who helped the Three Lions reach the World Cup semi-finals at Italia 90, hailed the impact of the former Tottenham ace but believes Walker and James remain the two most effective options in the English boss – if they are fit for the tournament.
The 58-year-old said: “Trippier loves going forward – but he knows his first job is to defend.
International reputation in tatters, hooliganism in the streets and intense political pressure on England. It’s a football story like no other.
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“As a result, I haven’t seen anyone tear it up.
“He knows how to defend and he knows how to duck and dive – like you have to if you play for Atletico.
“He had a good upbringing there and then he came back and put himself under a bit of pressure playing for Newcastle – the demands are high.
“But he came back at the right time and he’s a top player there.
“He’s doing well, but he’s not a Kyle Walker or a Reece James.
“He’s not a powerhouse that way with his running and everything.
“I think he’s more of a passing and movement player, he gets into good areas and has great delivery with the ball at his feet.”
Chelsea ace James, 22, has been sidelined with a knee injury in recent weeks while Manchester City star Walker, 32, underwent recent surgery for a groin injury after the his side’s 6-3 mayhem against local rivals Manchester United last month.
And Parker, who earned 19 caps for the Three Lions between 1989 and 1994, added: “It’s a real shame that James is injured at the moment.
“He hasn’t been written off yet, but it’s just a shame there’s this doubt around him.
“Walker had a few false dawns with his comeback and it didn’t work out.
“So he’s a bigger problem right now because if you choose him, could he fall apart again?
“Reece James is a different kind of animal and the best right-back in the country – I think they have to see how it works.”
Parker was speaking ahead of the Channel 4 documentary ‘Italia 90: When Football Changed Forever’, which aired its first episode on Monday night and sees Parker playing alongside England colleagues Stuart Pearce, Paul Gascoigne, John Barnes, Peter Shilton and Steve Bull .
England’s run to the semi-finals – where they suffered a heartbreak against Germany – still holds legendary status in Three Lions folklore.
And Parker, who played an unfortunate role in the Germans’ opener before providing the assist in leveler Gary Lineker, is delighted to help shine a light on the tournament more than three decades later.
He added: “I am involved in something that goes on and on.
“To see people still talking so passionately about Italia 90 32 years later is something I never expected.
“I thought it would have been done when we got home and the new season started, usually people move on.
“But you know, he just didn’t, he wasn’t allowed to die.”
Italia 90: When football changed forever. Broadcast on Channel 4 at 9pm on Monday October 31, includes interviews with Paul Parker, Stuart Pearce, Paul Gascoigne, John Barnes, Peter Shilton and Steve Bull #Italia90 https://www.channel4.com/