- Kimmich the stand-out performer as Germany beat Northern Ireland 1-0.
- Won praise from teammates, including the man he replaced, Höwedes.
- Could be long-term successor to Lahm for Die Nationalmannschaft.
A midfielder-cum-centre-back in FC Bayern München's Bundesliga title-winning campaign in 2015/16, 21-year-old Joshua Kimmich looks like he could be Germany's long-term solution at right-back if Tuesday's 1-0 victory over Northern Ireland at UEFA EURO 2016 is anything to go by…
"He absolutely inspired the game," said Benedikt Höwedes - the man Kimmich replaced at the Parc des Princes. "It was the right decision of the coach [Joachim Löw] to choose the more offensive option. Joshua did a lot for the game, he was dangerous, and put in some good crosses."
With four points taken from two games against Ukraine and Poland, Germany coach Löw knew that only victory would guarantee first place in Group C, and whilst FC Schalke 04 captain Höwedes had helped Die Nationalmannschaft to consecutive clean sheets in the previous two games, there was a lack of support for FC Bayern's Thomas Müller going forward on the right flank.
Enter Kimmich. A midfielder for most of his young career, his defensive credentials were proven last term when he helped FC Bayern to 14 clean sheets in his 23 games - the majority of them from the heart of the Bavarians' defence with Jerome Boateng, Javi Martinez and Holger Badstuber seeing frequent visits to the club's medical staff.
Do not let the scoreline on Tuesday fool you, either. Michael McGovern in the Northern Irish goal pulled off eight saves to keep the scoreline down in Paris. Kimmich showed signs that he could both make and take chances on Tuesday - a wicked cross for club and international teammate Mario Götze went begging before Kimmich span a left-footed shot narrowly over McGovern's top corner.
If Kimmich can build on this performance, he could emerge as Germany's long-term solution to Philipp Lahm's international retirement. With the former FIFA World Cup-winning captain for company back at the Allianz Arena next season, Kimmich will continue to learn from the best. Bad news for Höwedes; great news for Löw.