Kieran Trippier has vowed not to give up on his England career after swapping Atletico Madrid’s Champions League campaign for Newcastle’s Premier League survival fight.
The 31-year-old full-back, who has 35 senior caps, secured his return to his native country on Friday when he completed a move which is understood to have cost the Magpies £12million plus add-ons on a two-and-a-half-year contract.
Eyebrows may have been raised at his decision, while more cynical onlookers have cited Newcastle’s newfound Saudi-backed spending power as a factor, but the former Burnley and Tottenham defender has insisted his ambition remains as strong as ever.
Trippier, who played in his country’s World Cup semi-final defeat by Croatia in 2018 and Euro 2020 final loss to Italy, said: “I’m still ambitious, I still want to get in the England team.
“I know I’m up against Reece James, Kyle Walker and Trent [Alexander-Arnold] and I feel I can still handle the pressure and performances, I still feel like I’m in very good shape.
“I’m looking to challenge myself again and I’ll never give up on the England international [team]. I’m playing for Newcastle, I need to give good performances for the club.
“I know I’m up against three or four or five other right-backs, but I’m the type of player, I love challenges, I love testing myself and this is another test for me personally.
“But I’ll never give up on the hope of playing for England.”
Trippier is the first player recruited for head coach Eddie Howe, with whom he worked previously at Burnley, by Amanda Staveley’s consortium in which Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is an 80 per cent stakeholder.
He neatly sidestepped questions about ethical concerns amid human rights issues raised during and since the takeover process, but was quick to address suggestions he had accepted the club’s offer of employment for purely financial reasons.
Trippier, who could make his debut in Saturday’s FA Cup third-round clash with Cambridge, said: “I know why I came here. I came to help the team, the project, everything about it.
“If people say it’s about money, then everybody’s entitled to their own opinion, but I know my reasons why and that’s not one of them.”
Asked about the very real possibility of relegation, the former Manchester City trainee added: “I’m just taking it game by game, I’m not focusing on what could happen in a few months.”
Trippier believes he has returned to England a better player for his time in Madrid and confident he has much to offer, both in the Magpies’ ongoing relegation fight and for what lies ahead.
He said: “It’s been an unbelievable experience. I’ve learned a lot about myself personally off the field, but most importantly on the pitch with Diego Simeone.
“He worked me relentlessly, as you can imagine, individually and on us collectively as a group and I feel like he’s improved my game so much. The experiences I’ve had throughout my career and certainly in Spain will certainly help me here at Newcastle.
“This club can go as far as it wants to – but first we need to focus on this season. It’s an exciting project. The owners want to make this club very successful. Hopefully I can help the team. It’s an exciting time for supporters and players.”