‘His know-how will be crucial for us’ – Hurst on Walters
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Jon Walters is going to be a crucial player for Ipswich Town both on and off the pitch.
That’s according to Blues boss Paul Hurst after he landed the 34-year-old striker on loan from Burnley until January.
Walters, who was a popular figure during his three years at Portman Road (07-10), was given a hero’s reception ahead of his second debut on Sunday.
And he responded with an impressive display in the 1-1 home draw with rivals Norwich City, providing an assist for Gwion Edwards’ roof-raising opener.
“I thought he had a very good game and will get better as well,” said Hurst. “His enthusiasm and, importantly, his know-how will help the younger players and be crucial for us.
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“Off the pitch, in the dressing room and just around the place in general he can be a big player for us.”
Leaving the Blues following a fall-out with Roy Keane, Walters went on to become an established top-flight and international player with Stoke and the Republic of Ireland respectively.
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Last year was a frustrating one for him though as he was restricted to just five appearances in an injury-hit debut campaign with Burnley. Not that it showed on Sunday.
“I think that’s credit to Jon,” said Hurst. “He was very keen to express that he’s a fit lad. He brought his stats over from what he’s been doing training wise, the game he had played (in Europa League qualifying), and said ‘I’ve looked after myself’.
“At half-time I said ‘are you going to be okay for 90 minutes?’ And he said ‘yeah, fine, definitely’. I’m sure he was tired because he ran around – and you should be tired when you come off the pitch – but I didn’t see him tire more than anyone else.”
Meanwhile, Hurst was equally impressed with the debut of 23-year-old centre-back Matthew Pennington less than 48 hours after his arrival on a season-long loan from Everton.
“I thought he did very well,” enthused the Blues boss. “He’s a defender first and foremost. He has played at this level before (on loan at Leeds), but still, to come into this type of game...
“I know he’s played in the Merseyside Derby, but having only trained with us once and arrived here very late on Friday evening after a long journey over, I thought he acquitted himself very well. He’ll be pleased with his debut.”