There's been an INSANE amount of talk about the right-back position this season, and rightfully so. The position is one of the deepest and most confusing points of the entire squad with four potential candidates to step into the starting XI when healthy. In all likelihood, at least one player will be sold this summer but it could be two (Alan Hutton and Vedran Corluka are already swirling around in the transfer rumors). It seems the general consensus from the CFC community is that when Kyle Walker comes back from loan he should get the nod to start the 2011-12 campaign. I'm not completely sold, and you shouldn't be either. Read why after the jump.
1) He's still very young.
Mr. Walker is at the ripe old age of 20. 2-0. While he has potential brimming everywhere, he's 20. Just want to make sure that's settled. Moving on.
2) He hasn't really faced top flight competition regularly.
In his professional career, Walker has only played a total of 10 appearances (nine starts) for Premiership teams. For a young player that's great, but not necessarily for someone coming in to usurp a starting role. At the lower levels Walker has proved to be a rock at right-back for Sheffield United, Northampton Town and QPR. The leap up and speed difference in the Premiership will be something he will work on and must become more comfortable with in order to be a regular contributor at the senior level.
3) Corluka is a better option than Walker...for now.
Getting Walker experience playing senior games will be important but for the short term Corluka is the much better option. There's no reason Walker shouldn't be the backup right-back next year, allowing him time to grow (see point #1).
4) A parable.
A player that's similar to Kyle Walker (in terms of hype) is brief Aston Villa teammate and defender Eric Lichaj. The American was drawing rave reviews when he jumped from UNC to Aston Villa after a single season, then played himself into a new three year contract with Villa last year. Lichaj is currently on loan to Leeds United and just played a game February 26 against Swansea...and got absolutely throttled. The talk is fairly quiet now. Just have patience everyone; start drinking the Kool-Aid in a few years.