Hurst: Walters Has Fitted in Brilliantly
Thursday, 13th Sep 2018 16:46
Blues boss Paul Hurst says returning loanee Jon Walters has fitted in brilliantly and given the squad a lift since joining from Burnley just before the end of August. The 34-year-old was back at Town on Monday having left the Republic of Ireland camp prior to Tuesday’s friendly in Poland.
“I spoke to Jon about that when we initially signed him, I wasn’t sure exactly what his situation was and I think he was a little unclear about what he wanted to do,” Hurst said regarding Walters’s involvement in Ireland’s games during the break.
“And in the end that it was decided that he wanted to hopefully go and get minutes, which he did in that first game [the 4-1 UEFA Nations League defeat in Wales].
“And I spoke and said that the ideal scenario would be for him to come back because we were still training, he’s like a new member of the squad and we’d like him around, and he was more than happy to do that and has trained with the lads and has fitted in brilliantly, I have to say.”
Hurst says he has been hugely impressed by the forward: “I just like his attitude, he’s around the place, he’s got a smile on his face but when it’s time to work, he works as hard as anybody.
“You can see him in the gym, I’m often told he’s one of the last out of there. He looks after himself, which is what he said [he’d do].
“What you do find is a lot of players will say things and then you find out whether they’re true to their word. I think in Jon’s case, he is.
“I think the lads have had a little bit of a lift from him coming in as well and he’ll be great for us.”
Hurst says he was surprised to read that Ireland said they released Walters due to an ongoing knee problem, the frontman having trained regularly with the Blues.
“I was a little interested in how that came across,” he admitted. “I don’t know. We did train three days last week and I’m pretty sure Jon did that.”
Might other factors - perhaps the well-documented row between Walters and Harry Arter and Ireland assistant boss and ex-Town manager Roy Keane which related to the players sitting out training due to injuries - have played a part?
“Well, I don’t know, things have been out there, that’s far from me to comment on, but I think what I would say is Jon knows how to manage his knee,” Hurst added.
“If it’s a case where he needs a day off, we’ll have an adult conversation and we’ll make the right decision.
“I’m not going to force a player out on the training pitch if it’s going to be detrimental to him and to us.
“We had a conversation before he signed about what I expect generally from players and it fits in to what he wants. He doesn’t want to be inside, he wants to be out training.
“Like I say, if there is ever an issue or it’s playing up for whatever reason, we’ll look at it. But one thing that I alluded to before is that in Jon Walters you’ve got someone that wants to be out there and has got a fantastic attitude.
“If he is inside it’ll be with gritted teeth and it’ll be because he needs to be, not because he thinks, ‘I’m a bit tired, I think I might have a day off’.
“And that’s the attitude I want when you’ve got someone of his standing in the group and the career that he’s had.
“I think I’d put Luke Chambers and Cole Skuse into that as well. You look at their playing records, there’s some stat out there about how many Championship games they’ve had.
“That’s what you want as a manager, that your senior players, you can hold them up and say, ‘That’s how you be a professional footballer’. In that case we’re very fortunate.”
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