Nathaniel Clyne: I want to lock down England's No2 shirt

Sunday 06 Sep 2015
Nathaniel Clyne has six caps for England

After playing his part in helping England reach Euro 2016, Nathaniel Clyne has set his sights on making the No2 shirt his own.

The 24-year-old, who joined Liverpool from Southampton this summer, collected his sixth cap for Roy Hodgson’s team in the win over San Marino on Saturday.

Since coming into the senior set-up last year he has played in all but one game, starting five, and wants to continue his development to become the Three Lions’ regular on the right side of defence

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“I am here to try to lock down a position at right-back,” said the south Londoner. “It's obviously going to be difficult because there are a lot of people who could play right-back and there's a lot of competition, but I'm looking forward to challenging for it.

“After training, when I'm with my club, I can get extra work in on the pitch on my weaknesses.

“I just want to try to improve as a player and going to Liverpool is a big club and another challenge for me and one that I'm looking to take on.”

He continued: “Being new to the England squad and first team I think I have done fairly well so far. I think I have joined in well and I need to push on now and claim that right-back spot.

“I always set my mind on playing at the top. As a footballer you want to be playing at the highest level and whether you start at the bottom and work your way up to the top, it's always good. It's the way I done it.”

Nathaniel Clyne

Clyne in action against San Marino on Saturday

In the England coaching set-up he has no better teacher than Gary Neville.

The ex-Manchester United full-back won 85 caps in a 12-year international career, while also scooping eight Premier League titles and two Champions Leagues.

And Clyne says he is picking up plenty of tips from one of his predecessors.

“He gives me his advice. Obviously he was an experienced player and I learn a few things about the position from him,” revealed the former Crystal Palace man.

“I think the position of full-back has changed where we’re almost regarded as wingers, especially at big clubs where they want you to get forward and help in attack but also be good in defence.

“It means a lot of physical work and a lot of running up and down.

“I like doing that anyway, because I’m a fit young lad and I like to get forward and also defend. You get the best of both worlds.”

It wasn’t always about defending for Clyne, however.

Nathaniel Clyne

The Liverpool man has been getting advice from Gary Neville

After a trial for Arsenal, playing up front and scoring four goals in one game, he eventually signed for the Tottenham Hotspur academy at the age of 10 before moving closer to home to play for Palace.

And, he admits, he always had ambitions to play as a forward, like his idol Gianfranco Zola.

“Ideally I wanted to be a striker. I liked playing up front and scoring goals,” he said.

“Back in the day I used to like Zola. He was a top player. I liked him because he was small and I was small. I’m still small now!

“But I always had this hunger in me to run after people and get the ball back and I was really good at it, so they decided I was better off as a defender.”

He added: “It was a coach at Tottenham who suggested I move back.

“I just liked playing football really, whether it was in attack or defence, I was just happy to be on a football pitch.”

And being on the pitch is clearly something Clyne still enjoys.

He made his senior first-team debut for Palace back in 2008 aged just 17 and he already has over 200 League appearances to his name as well as caps at Under-19 and Under-21 level for his country.

Now, having helped England clinch their place in France as the first team to qualify, he believes the team can go from strength to strength before next summer.

Nathaniel Clyne

Clyne has helped Hodgson's side reach Euro 2016

"We're in good shape. We've done really well, won every qualifying game, and we are focused on the games to come,” he said.

"We want to try to go through the whole of qualification by winning every game. That would be great and give us confidence going into the Euros.

"We are getting better and better - as you can see with the performances and results - and we seem to be getting stronger.

"What's happened in the past encourages us to do better. Everyone wants to do well. There's a hunger and confidence going into the tournament and we want to be as successful as we can."

He added: “I haven't been to a tournament yet and that's why I'm hungry to go.

"Hopefully I can get myself into the team and experience it all and see what it's all about."

Clyne will be hoping to feature for the Three Lions on Tuesday night when they face Switzerland at Wembley - a draw will clinch top spot in Group E.

Tickets for the game are still available, click here to buy online.

By Jamie Bradbury FA Editor at the England team hotel