‘I wouldn’t rule it out but it’s difficult to find someone who can contribute’ - Hurst on signing free agent striker

Jonathan Walters leaves the pitch after surfing a calf injury. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEP

Jonathan Walters leaves the pitch after surfing a calf injury. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Paul Hurst will not rule out dipping into the transfer market in the wake of Jon Walters’ injury but the Ipswich Town boss believes it will be extremely difficult to find a free agent striker who can hit the ground running.

Paul Hurst is still looking for his first win as Ipswich Town manager. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW

Paul Hurst is still looking for his first win as Ipswich Town manager. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Walters loan from Burnley has been cut short following an achilles injury that will keep him sidelined for six months, leaving the Blues short of bodies in attack.

Signing a free agent is the only option available to Hurst prior to the transfer window opening in January, but the Ipswich boss is wary of bringing in a player who will take up to a month to build the fitness required to play in his side.

“The danger is we are now into October almost and, unless their situations are different somehow, it’s a long time for players who have not played to come in and get fit,” he said.

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“I suggest it might take a month to do that and I guess you could argue we would still have a couple of months to work with them, but it’s not an ideal situation that’s for sure.

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“I wouldn’t rule it out but at the same time it’s difficult to perhaps find the person who can contribute and not just bring in a name – they need to be in a position to contribute to the team.”

Walters went into Saturday’s clash with Bolton nursing an achilles problem, with Hurst insisting all the evidence the club and player had showed there was no additional risk involved in sending the 35-year-old on as a substitute.

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“There was never a thought he could go on the pitch and make it worse, so it was a shock in that sense,” he said.

“I don’t think there’s anyone to be held accountable and unfortunately these things do happen. As much as he have medical teams and sports science and all of that, the top teams have it and still get injuries so it’s not the be-all and end-all. It hopefully helps.

“In this case you have to put it down as one of those things.

“We get data but not in terms of any data that would highlight anything with his achilles,” he added.

“All we can go on at the time was, one, he trained in front of us, two, Jon said he was fine, and while I’m not saying Jon’s a doctor or a physio, he’s an experienced player.

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“And thirdly, as I mentioned, the specialist that had had a look and said that it was better than it was a couple of years ago and that it was in really good condition.

“So that’s the frustration on part that it’s not like we’ve had been given some advice and then gone against it.

“I’m sure Jon would have wished that he had felt something so he didn’t get that injury. Like I say, I’m disappointed for us all but particularly for Jon.”

He will now be missed, both on and off the pitch.

“He was important on the pitch and it was clear to see what he could offer off the pitch as well in terms of another senior pro giving advice,” Hurst said.

“From the minute he walked through the door he commanded that respect – that’s easier done as well when he carries himself how he does. He didn’t have to come in and be ‘I’m here’ because he was down to earth with a good character and work ethic.

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“I’m disappointed for Ipswich Town, of course, but also for Jon on a personal level because of how hard he had worked to get back fit.

“Some players are precious about staying in the Premier League but he just wanted to play football and came out to a club which meant and still means a lot to him.

“That’s been taken away from him and he has another long road to go down in terms of getting back fit again.”

When asked if Ipswich must now continue to pay the striker’s wages until January, Hurst replied: “I think there was a break in January but I’ll let other people in different areas of the football club deal with that.

“That’s the risk that you take and realistically it’s pretty obviously we weren’t paying all of Jon’s wages in any case because I don’t think he would have joined us if that had been the case.”

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