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Ipswich Town still 'really hopeful' Brighton loan goalkeeper Christian Walton can remain at Portman Road despite recall clause activation



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Kieran McKenna and Mark Ashton have far from given up hope Ipswich Town can keep hold of loan goalkeeper Christian Walton.

This is despite parent club Brighton & Hove Albion having been understood to have activated a seven days' notice recall clause.

The 26-year-old joined the Suffolk club on a season-long loan under former manager Paul Cook but speculation has suggested the Amex club will look to cash in on him this month.

Last week manager McKenna revealed the club were working hard to keep the former Wigan Athletic title winner on a permanent basis themselves, and at this afternoon's press conference he said those efforts are very much continuing.

Christian Walton has been a key figure in goal for Ipswich Town over the last few months but there is uncertainty surrounding where he will end the month Picture: Barry Goodwin
Christian Walton has been a key figure in goal for Ipswich Town over the last few months but there is uncertainty surrounding where he will end the month Picture: Barry Goodwin

Asked about the shot-stopper's mindset amid the uncertainty and whether Mckenna is confident Saturday's League One fixture at Bolton Wanderers (3pm) won't be his last game for the club, he said: "Christian's been great. To be fair I can only go off what I've seen in training and obviously the game last weekend as well.

"I've had a couple of conversations with him as has Rene (Gilmartin, goalkeeper coach) and I know the club are continuing conversations with him on it. Obviously keeping the details of those private but I know Christian loves being here, wants to be here, is enjoying being here.

"I know the club are working really hard behind the scenes. Obviously there is a recall clause in there which has been publicised so I know the club are working hard to see if there is anything they can do to keep him here until the end of the season because that's what I think is a really good outcome for all parties."

Vaclav Hladky, who kept a clean sheet again Wycombe Wanderers in Kieran McKenna's first game in charge due to Christian Walton having Covid, is in pole position to step in should the Brighton man be leaving Portman Road Picture: Barry Goodwin
Vaclav Hladky, who kept a clean sheet again Wycombe Wanderers in Kieran McKenna's first game in charge due to Christian Walton having Covid, is in pole position to step in should the Brighton man be leaving Portman Road Picture: Barry Goodwin

If Walton was not to be available after the Bolton game, McKenna feels confident he has good options already at his disposal.

"Obviously we have three senior goalkeepers at the moment," he said.

"Vac (Vaclav Hladky) played against Wycombe and done well, keeping a clean sheet.

"Obviously it wasn't easy to leave him out of the Gillingham game because he came in and kept a clean sheet, and you can't do any better than that for a goalkeeper from a statistics point of view.

"He has been training well. I think he's grown in confidence from the Wycombe game as well, having had that good performance and a clean sheet in front of that big crowd.

"Wycombe was a big moment for him so he's in a good place and we know that he's ready.

"Tomas (Holy) I obviously haven't seen play any matches yet under myself but again, he's an experienced goalkeeper who has been here a good amount of time. He's been training hard.

"So yes, we have a strong department and Renee's been doing a really good job with the goalkeepers at the moment. They are all training well and are all in a good place."

Asked if it meant he was not necessarily rushing to get another in if Walton is not available in the short or long term, he replied: "Well look, that is something as I said before we are working really hard on something that us and Christian don't want to happen.

"We're really hopeful that he can stay here and that something can be done.

"It is the work of the club then behind that to make sure that we have good cover in all positions and we know what's out there and who's available, especially in this month. We need to be very alert and ahead of the game.

"We need to forsee the different eventualities that may happen and that is something that we are doing with the goalkeeper department and we are making sure that there is various options and possibilities for whatever may happen."