JON Walters has been stripped of the Ipswich Town captaincy and dropped from the squad, ahead of today’s Portman Road curtain-raiser against Burnley.
Instead, Town boss Roy Keane will appoint experienced midfielder David Norris as his new skipper to lead out the team against the Clarets.
Walters has gone from hero to villain status at Portman Road, in the space of just a few days.
Always the first name on Keane’s team-sheet, Walters has fallen out of favour with his manager, following his request to leave the club earlier in the week.
Keane went very public at Thursday’s Portman Road press conference, insisting that front-runner Walters had “gone about things the wrong way” in terms of wanting to cut his ties with Town.
And it seems that a rift has developed between the duo, with Keane dropping his former captain from the squad completely. It now seems certain that Walters has played his last game for the Suffolk club.
A target of Stoke City, Walters has made no secret of the fact that he would like a chance to play in the Premier League.
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But Keane has not been amused by Walters taking a lead this week, with regards a potential transfer, just days after the 26-year-old former Chester City favourite had played a key role in Town’s opening day success at Middlesbrough.
Despite Town’s bright start to the season, which has featured back-to-back away victories at ‘Boro and Exeter (in the Carling Cup), off-the-pitch antics have dominated the headlines.
Last weekend, Town striker Pablo Counago was reported to have had a furious dressing room bust-up with Keane, and consigned to training with the under-18s.
Counago and Keane were believed to have had an angry confrontation, following the last pre-season game against a Tottenham XI, witnessed by some of the Spanish striker’s team-mates.
Since then, Counago has not been in any of Keane’s first three squads of the season. The Irishman revealed that he had “not had one offer” for his transfer-listed front-man since that episode.
Walters, meanwhile, has given terrific service to Town since his move from Chester at the start of 2007. He has rattled up 135 league appearances, and only last week Keane remarked that, in his opinion, only Blackpool’s Charlie Adam had been a better player in the Chamionship last term.
Keane had said: “Jon Walters, after Charlie Adam at Blackpool, was the best player in the Championship last season. He was massive for us, and an important captain.”
A week is a long time in football.