Ilkay Gundogan won’t be changing his style anytime soon.
The German midfielder, who will hope to play for his country against England at Wembley this evening, missed nine months after suffering knee ligament damage against Watford last December.
A clumsy tackle by a West Brom defender in the recent Carabao Cup clash at The Hawthorns saw Gundogan crumple to the floor and many feared the luckless midfielder had suffered another serious knee injury.
Thankfully, it was no more than a minor knock and Gundogan says he will continue to play without fear and has no intention of playing in a more cautious way.
“Against West Brom, a few people told me they were afraid I was going to get tackled from behind or from the side but ultimately, that’s my game.,” said Ilkay.
“Of course, I could have played the ball sooner on that occasion, but an opportunity to play a pass just didn’t arise – I was waiting for the defenders to move but I didn’t see the right moment to play the ball through and so I was challenged.
“But that’s how I play and I don’t want to change – I don’t want to be afraid of being challenged or playing my normal game so I won’t change a thing.
“I know people are looking out for me and want the best for me and that’s what I feel which is great, but going forward, I don’t want to be afraid in my mind of being tackled or challenged – even 1% or 2% of me – I’m a footballer and I don’t think that would be good for me or productive for my game.
“I just want to play football, help my team and I don’t care whether I get a heavy challenge or not – it’s just part of the game.
“So, when I’m on the field I want to focus on what I need to do and get on with it.
“I’ve already had some good fortune because, although I was a little but down after the game against West Brom, two or three days later, I was back in training.”
Tonight, Ilkay will look to represent his country for the first time in almost exactly a year as he looks to cement a place for next summer’s World Cup in Russia.
“If I stay fit, I am sure that I will be in the World Cup squad,” he said. “My country, team-mates and the coach have given me an extremely good feeling in the past years.
“They made sure that I still feel important although I have been ruled out for some months from time to time.”