Jonathan Walters returns to Ipswich Town
After eight years away, Jonathan Walters returns on loan at Portman Road. The Irish international comes on a season-long loan from parent club Burnley. What can he add to the current squad at Portman Road?
Over five seasons, Walters appeared 146 times for Ipswich Town, earning a good reputation at the club. He scored 30 league goals before moving to Stoke City, where he won a further 260 caps. His subsequent move to Turf Moor didn't turn out so well. He made six appearances in just over a year.
At 34, Walters wants to continue at the highest level possible. He'll put in 110% in the Championship. Known for his high work rate and passion, the English-born Irishman retains the attacking intent needed to score. The question is whether the quality's still there, as well?
Since debuting with Bolton Wanderers in 2001, Walters displayed the hunger to win every battle, chase every ball and outhustle opponents. He can hold the ball, win headers and possesses the composure to score under pressure. A well-rounded player, appreciation for his game goes beyond his own fans. Opponents often came away wishing they had a similar player in their squad.
Walters started up front with Kayden Jackson in the Tractor Boys' clash with Norwich City at Portman Road. The Old Farm Derby ended 1-1 but Walters made an important contribution. Gwion Edwards scored the Tractor Boys lone goal after the ball found the Welshman after Walters won a header in the box. An assist is the next best thing to scoring in his debut. Walters may rue not finding the goal himself, but he can hold his head high after making a key contribution. He should be confident moving forward.
After six games, Ipswich lag behind. No wins, three draws, three losses, Paul Hurst expected better. Since taking charge in May, the former Shrewsbury Town manager dealt with low wages at the club. Austerity hinders his progress. The Blues sit 23rd, desperate for their first win.
Freddie Sears and Ellis Harrison are the other forwards. Sears is 28; Harrison and Jackson 24. Walters adds depth, quality and experience to Hurst's attack. Although "Super-Jon" plays in a striking role, he can also adapt to the wings if needed. After his first appearance came off well, expect Walters to feature regularly
Despite his age, Walters isn't the type to sit back and enjoy his time at Portman Road. He intends to earn his keep. His hustle and bustle worry defenders. A handful, he should develop into Hurst's go-to man. The interesting question is how many goals he'll score this season? The matches come hot and heavy in the lower divisions. The gaffer must manage his minutes with care to keep him fresh late in the campaign. To avoid the temptation to overuse the veteran, it's imperative the squad tuck a few results under their belts quickly.
If all goes well, Ipswich Town fans will only regret Jon Walters spent so long away.