New Blue Walton on Cook reunion, Town's keeper battle and promotion goal
- Credit: ITFC
New Ipswich Town keeper Christian Walton says he 'jumped at the chance' to play for Paul Cook again - and is looking forward to the battle for the starting spot between the sticks at Portman Road.
The 25-year-old signed on a season-long loan deal from Premier League Brighton on Monday, and will be reunited with the boss he spent two seasons playing under at Wigan.
In the first of those campaigns, 2017/18, the pair enjoyed promotion from League One, before finishing 18th in the Championship the following season.
And Walton, who's also spent time on loan at Blackburn, Luton and Southend, says he's come to Portman Road to play, having only seen action in a handful of games for the Seagulls last term.
I'm absolutely delighted," he said. "I know a lot about the club, played against them on a couple of occasions - turning up here today you can tell what a massive team it is and what a massive club is here, so I'm really happy to sign and looking forward to getting started.
"I had a bit of a difficult situation at Brighton where I wasn't playing games, and I'd been used to playing week in and week out, obviously at Wigan, Luton, I've had numerous loans so I was getting that Saturday matchday feeling.
"So to go back to Brighton obviously didn't work out as planned and I just wanted to be back playing.
"So when Ipswich showed interest to take me I jumped at the chance to play for the manager again and play with a great group of lads and the team he's putting together here."
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Of his previous time with Cook, he added: "I had two great seasons playing under Paul. The first was in this division, were we went on an amazing run, kept lots of clean sheets, were winning loads of games and we had a really good time.
"Then the Championship was another good season, we stayed in the Championship, which was the goal at the start of the season, and did really well.
"Then obviously as soon as he showed interest to come here, I jumped at it and I want to play for him again."
He added: "I'd like to think I can bring a lot of experience to this team. It looks like a really good balance between experience and youth in the squad and I think I'll fit into the dressing room well.
"I have got promoted from this league and I want to bring that success that we had at Wigan with this manager, to get this team back where it belongs, because obviously they don't want to be in League One for too long.
"I just want to help us try and win as many games as possible and I'm looking forward to getting to work."
With fellow summer signing Vaclav Hladky having had a shaky start to his Town career, conceding 10 goals in his first five games, it looks like Walton has likely been brought in to take his place.
But the former England U21 international says he will embrace competition for the starting spot.
"I think it's healthy, throughout the team, in every position," he said of the competition at Town. "You're never resting on your laurels, and you have to play to the best of your ability because you know that someone wants your shirt.
"I think it will be a good group and John Keeley, the goalie coach, will make sure the competition is healthy and everyone's fighting in training to play."
Walton, who's in the final season of his contract with Brighton, also admitted that he wants to find a home where he'll play regularly.
"That's what I want to do," he explained. "I've been on loan, I've played I think it was three seasons on the spin where I'm playing 30 to 40 games, getting that matchday feeling, getting into a rhythm and a routine, and that's something I want to continue.
"Obviously last season wasn't a great season for anyone - spectators, players, everyone involved in football clubs, due to the pandemic, but this year is back to how it was and I'm looking forward to putting a shirt back on and getting out it front of a big crowd here at Portman Road.
"I just want to keep playing and adding games to my CV, and I'm looking forward to doing that with Ipswich."
Town have the weekend off now - Wycombe postponing their scheduled match due to international call-ups - so the Blues will have a solid block of training before getting back into action against Bolton at Portman Road a week on Saturday.
With a total of 19 new faces coming in over the summer, and the Blues winless after their first five League One tussles, Walton believes the small break will be of benefit.
"It's probably a good thing for everyone," he said. "The team is new, it gives the manager time now to sit down with his staff and plan a good two weeks of training ready for that game against Bolton, so everyone will be raring to go for that.
"It'll be good. A good couple of weeks' training and a chance for new lads like myself to settle in."