'I'm coming here to set the standards for everyone else' - Jon Walters on his Ipswich Town return
PUBLISHED: 18:05 30 August 2018 | UPDATED: 18:05 30 August 2018
Popular former Ipswich Town forward Jon Walters has returned to the club on a half-season loan from Premier League club Burnley.
The Republic of Ireland international, who turns 35 next month, goes straight into Paul Hurst’s squad for Sunday’s East Anglian derby against Norwich City at Portman Road and will wear the No.39 shirt.
He will provide some added experience and leadership to a young, new-look squad of players, largely recruited from the lower leagues, that finds itself winless, bottom of the Championship table and out of the Carabao Cup six games into the campaign, despite some encouraging displays.
And his hard-working playing style should, fitness allowing at the twilight stage of his career, mesh with Hurst’s high-press ideals.
“There was interest last week and the owner (Marcus Evans) rang me up, so when someone that important at the club contacts you and shows an interest then it’s a no brainer really,” Walters told the club website.
“There was interest from other clubs but it was a no brainer.
“I still have a lot of friends in the area, still came down here regularly to see people, and I’m ready to go.
“The club’s not in a great position but it’s only early days. The signs are good and I’m ready to go.
“I could have stayed (at Burnley) and not played, tried to force my way into the team but that wasn’t happening. I could have taken the easy street but that’s not what I’m about, I’m still hungry to do well and impress.
“Hopefully I can do that come the weekend.”
He added: “He (Paul Hurst) knows I’m not coming here to take it easy or anything. He knows I’m coming here to set the standards for everyone else.
“If I can do it as a 34-year-old – and trust me, I will be in training and in games – then it’s a good motivation for the other boys to be following that.”
Walters’ early career mirrors the type of player Hurst has been targeting during his early days at Portman Road – ones who are determined to make their way back up the pyramid – and he could act as a good mentor for the new group in that respect.
After failing to make the breakthrough at Blackburn and Bolton, Walters played for Wrexham and Chester before an eye-catching display against Town for the latter in the FA Cup led to a £150k switch to Portman Road.
His all-action approach led to him becoming a popular figure among the Blues faithful as he scored 32 goals in 146 appearances between January 2007 and the summer of 2010.
A £2.75m move to Stoke followed and he was a top-flight regular during his seven seasons at the Britannia Stadium.
He joined Burnley in a £3m deal last summer but, not helped by recurring knee injuries, was restricted to just five appearances – four of them off the bench – in his debut campaign with the Tykes.
Walters did play the full match as Sean Dyche’s side drew a Europa league qualifier at Istanbul Buyuk little more than three weeks ago.