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McKenna: Walton Out For a Few Months
Friday, 4th Aug 2023 15:41

Town boss Kieran McKenna says keeper Christian Walton will be out for “a few months rather than a few weeks” having sustained a plantar fascia tear, but better news is that Massimo Luongo, Nathan Broadhead and Cameron Humphreys will travel to Sunderland, while Harry Clarke is back in training.

Walton picked up the injury in pre-season and missed last Friday’s friendlies in Austria. Subsequently, speculative reports claimed the 27-year-old would be out for up to the first six matches, however, the news, once the former Brighton man had seen a specialist on Wednesday, proved even worse.

“Of course it’s a blow for Christian because he was really looking forward to the season and going to test and show himself again at this level,” McKenna said at his first pre-mathc press conference of the season.

“And any team would miss Christian’s qualities that he brings, but Vaz [second-choice Vaclav Hladky] has been terrific for us on and off the pitch in the 18 months I’ve been here. Of course, he played in my first game, showed his qualities, kept a clean sheet.

“I thought he was terrific in pretty much every game he played last season, in the FA Cup, the Carabao, he didn’t have a lot to do but also in the Papa Johns as well.

“I think he was terrific in every game he played. He’s got his own qualities and his own strengths that he brings to his team and showed them last season, he shows them every day in training and he’s an important member of the group.

“That’s football, you have injuries, you have setbacks over the course of the season and that’s why we have a squad and why we have goalkeeping department, so that others are ready to step in when the opportunities come.

“It’s going to be more like a few months than a few weeks. It’s a longer term one. He’s had a tear in his plantar fascia, which is a strange injury for any footballer to get, and certainly for a goalkeeper to pick it up in a pre-season friendly is very unusual.

“But it is what it is, he’s getting the best care and treatment, he’s got his treatment plan now, he’s been to see the specialist, there’s no surgery required, it’s just a matter of rest and no doubt Christian will come back stronger for the experience and no doubt that as a team we’ll be absolutely fine.”

Regarding Luongo (groin) and Broadhead (quad), McKenna says they’ll travel to Sunderland.

“They’ve all returned to training today, so they’re all available to travel,” he said. “We’re going to bring a few extra because we’ve had some niggles. We’ll bring a few extra to Sunderland and we’ll make the decisions if not Sunday then after training tomorrow on who’s going to be available for what minutes.

“They’ve all returned to training this week, which is a big positive, which means that Christian Walton is the only player in terms of injury not available for the first game.”

Clarke is suspended having been red-carded on the final day of last season at Fleetwood, but would probably have missed out anyway due to the achilles problem he has been suffering with since last season. However, the former Arsenal man has joined in with the rest of the squad.

“He’s in the group, he returned to some training with the group this week, so looks to be going in the right direction,” McKenna said. “Let’s see how that continues and whether he’ll be available for some minutes next week.”

The Blues boss is likely to pick from Janoi Donacien or Dominic Ball at right-back at the Stadium of Light.

“A good position to be in, we want to be strong across all positions with at least two, and with how Dominic’s done in pre-season it gives us currently three in that position, two available for this weekend,” he said.

“That’s the strength we want to have across all positions because it’s a long season and we’re going to need a strong squad and we’re strong in that position and whoever plays the minutes across this weekend, I’m sure will go and do a good job for the team.”

Cam Humphreys has trained again this week following his absence due to concussion protocols.

Photo: Matchday Images

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superblues9 added 15:47 - Aug 4

DeliasMashedPotato added 15:47 - Aug 4
Big blow but good opportunity for Hladky to step up and show us why we signed him as our #1

itfckenty added 15:54 - Aug 4
your time to shine Hladky!

Linkboy13 added 15:56 - Aug 4
Massive loss Hladky is a decent replacement but not so good on crosses . Walton is a excellent keeper and very much taken for granted by some fans.

Naylorsrightboot added 15:58 - Aug 4
Not the best news for the start of the season. Suspect we will be looking for another keeper as cover. Not sure about Vaz, lve never seen him make a save. Only ever seen him pick the ball out of the net.

Lord_Mac added 16:01 - Aug 4
In a way it might work out in our favour because Hladky has not had much opportunity and he’ll be much more settled as and when Walton returns. And nobody will be chasing Walton now. I wonder if the number three is good enough to step up? Tough baptism on Sunday!

jas0999 added 16:04 - Aug 4
Would be very surprised if we don’t bring in a keeper on a half season loan. A few months means it will be at least November until he’s back. Big big blow. Defensively, we look a bit lacking for the weekend.

statto72 added 16:05 - Aug 4
Oh well, fingers crossed that Walton recovers swiftly.
Good luck to Vaz. Who knows… maybe we’ll end up with a Clive Baker/Craig Forrest 1992/93 scenario.

Orraman added 16:10 - Aug 4
Vaz has proved himself capable with a couple of good games against Burnley last season in FA Cup as well as a confident display against Leipzig. He is good with the ball at his feet (apart from one stumble against Leipzig) so this should not impact on KMcK’s preferred tactic of playing out from back. His patience is now rewarded and now he can look forward to an extended run in the first team. All the best Vaz.

MickMillsTash added 16:11 - Aug 4
Hladcky made his a start in the Cook era where a organising defence was something to do after playing 18 holes.
The jury is out on him for me - good luck.

Karlosfandangal added 16:15 - Aug 4
Bad news but we have good back up

On the plus side that ends Luton’s interest

blues1 added 16:17 - Aug 4
Naylorsrightboot. Can only assume uve never been to a match that hladky has played in then. Bcse he's made some excellent saves. While hes maybe not as good as walton on crosses, he's better with his feet than walton is. And unlike when he 1st played for us under cook, he won't now have a whole different defence playing in front of him every game. Which will help him settle into the position.

keighleyblue added 16:19 - Aug 4
Hladky will be just fine. He's a good keeper.

OliveR16 added 16:21 - Aug 4
We'll get a loan keeper as extra back up.

JimInGreensboro added 16:28 - Aug 4
I remember similar concerns when Bart replaced Gerks. Turned out right well.

Monkey_Blue added 16:29 - Aug 4
I think it’s a case of grab your opportunity and make it hard for Walton to get back in when fit. That has to be his mindset.

peckam added 16:30 - Aug 4
Think Hladky will be absolutely fine. He's a good shot stopper and good with his feet so will fit in nicely with playing out from the back, plus his longer range distribution.
Hope Walton makes a full recovery - a nasty injury to recover from.

dirtydingusmagee added 16:32 - Aug 4
OOOOOOOH S##T Not the news we wanted to hear.

ArnieM added 16:35 - Aug 4
Just how the hell did he get that injury? Steroid injection for pain relief by any chance?

WestSussexBlue added 16:36 - Aug 4
Why the down vote for jas0999!
I think that’s a fair shout to be fair. To lose Walton is a big blow, if we were to lose Hladky as well we’d be in a world of trouble. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a loan keeper come in to give us depth again.

dirtydingusmagee added 16:36 - Aug 4
good luck VH and hopefully a hopefully a good recovery for CW, coyb

terryf added 16:39 - Aug 4
Vaz is a decent keeper and this is his opportunity to shine.

Not quite up there with Christian's overall game, but if anything his distribution is better and he certainly looks more comfortable playing out from the back with his feet. Under pressure Christian can sometimes looks a bit panicky!

chepstowblue added 16:42 - Aug 4
This is a huge blow, and the only position on the pitch where we can't replace like for like in terms of quality. Hladky, whilst much improved, has never inspired me with any confidence. He's gonna need to step up to a level I didn't think possible.

VanDusen added 16:57 - Aug 4
Be surprising if we got anyone on loan given we bought Slicker and haven't moved Hayes on anywhere?

That said, I've been extremely unsure about Hladky even last season such as v.Rotherham where he just didn't pock up or get rid enough. Still - fair play it's hardly like we've seen much of him so fingers crossed he steps up. Definitely like that Baker/Forrest analogy - he was stunning back in the day!

d77sgw added 16:57 - Aug 4
Have to bear in mind, unlike some reserve keepers, he was signed up as our No.1 at the time - he's then played second fiddle to one of the best keepers outside the Prem, and will have developed a lot with the support and coaching over the past 2-3 years. Didn't let us down last season, and personally I think we have to look at this as an opportunity.

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