'Christian wants to be here' - McKenna on Town's Walton pursuit
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Ipswich Town continue to work hard to keep goalkeeper Christian Walton, with the Brighton loanee potentially playing his final game for the club this weekend.
Walton has been in impressive form since joining on loan from the Premier League club in the summer, but the Seagulls this week triggered a recall clause which means he is likely to return to Brighton after this weekend’s game with Bolton.
Town are keen to sign him permanently and Walton is keen to remain at Portman Road, as he heads into the final six months of his Brighton contract, with discussions ongoing.
“Christian’s been great, I can only go off how I’ve seen him in training and obviously the game last week as well,” Town boss Kieran McKenna said.
“I’ve had a couple of conversations with him, as has Rene (Gilmartin, goalkeeping coach) and I know the club are continuing conversations with him. I’ll keep the details private obviously, but I know Christian loves being here, wants to be here, he’s enjoying being here.
“I know the club are working really hard behind the scenes. Obviously there’s a recall clause in there, which has been publicised, so I know the club are working hard to see if there’s anything that they can do to keep him to the end of the season because that’s what I think is a really good outcome for all parties.”
There is a sense the Blues are likely to move for another goalkeeper should Walton ultimately depart, with McKenna admitting he and the club must be ‘ahead of the game’ if their current No.1 is no longer available to them.
“That’s something, as I said before, we’re working really hard on and Christian going is something we don’t want to happen,” he said. “We are really hopeful that he can stay here and that something can be done.
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“It’s the work of the club behind that to make sure that we have good cover in all positions, that we know what’s out there and that we know who is available.
“We need to be very alert and need to be ahead of the game. We need to foresee the different eventualities that might happen. That’s something that we’re doing in the goalkeeping department and making sure that there are various options and possibilities for whatever might happen.”
Discussing his goalkeeping options, which include Czech pair Vaclav Hladky and Tomas Holy, McKenna said: “We have three senior goalkeepers at the moment. Vac (Hladky) played against Wycombe and did well and kept a clean sheet.
“Obviously, it wasn’t easy to leave him out of Gillingham away because he came in and kept a clean sheet and you can’t do any better than as a goalkeeper from a statistical point of view.
“He’s been training well and I think he’s grown in confidence from the Wycombe game as well, having that good performance and that clean sheet in front of a big crowd. That was a big moment for him, so he’s in a good place and we know that he’s ready.
“Tomas, I haven’t seen play any matches yet under me but again he is an experienced goalkeeper who has been here a good amount of time.
“He’s been training hard, so we have a strong department and Rene (Gilmartin, goalkeeping coach) is doing a really good job with the goalkeepers at the moment. They are all training well, they are all in a good place, and we feel like we’re in a good position in that department.”