Wigan Athletic star hopes he’s back in for keeps!
Christian Walton could not hide his relief at regaining his Wigan Athletic first-team place – after a lay-off far longer than he ever imagined!
The on-loan Brighton stopper was rested for the FA Cup third-round tie at West Brom on January 5, with long-time deputy Jamie Jones stepping into the breach.
But a string of fine displays from Jones – which saw him named player of the month for February – meant Walton was on the outside looking in until being recalled for the weekend win over Bolton.
A fine display in Wigan’s biggest win of the season was the perfect way to mark his return to the fold.
And Walton is determined to stay put for the rest of the campaign, as Latics aim to achieve their target of consolidating in the Championship.
“I was thrown in at the deep end a little bit, but that’s what you want as a footballer,” he told the Wigan Post.
“Jamie’s done well since he’s been in the team, but the gaffer wanted to change things back to how it was.
“It was the chance I’d been waiting for to be honest and I was determined to take it.
“I’ve had to wait two-and-a-half months – I didn’t expect it to be anywhere near that long!
“But that’s football, and you have to be ready for if and when the call does come.
“We obviously went on an unbeaten run when Jamie came in and there was no need to change keeper.
“I always knew I’d get another chance, but you just have to bide your time.”
Having been loaned out for a second season by Brighton to further his development, Walton admits the situation was far from ideal with regards his Premier League club.
“I came here to be number one,” the 23-year-old acknowledged.
“I didn’t come here to sit on the bench, so it’s nice to be back in the side, and good to be part of such a tremendous team performance.”
Latics moved up two places and three points clear of the drop zone with the win over crisis club Bolton.
And Walton says it has to be the benchmark now for the rest of the campaign.
“It was the perfect game to kickstart the season,” Walton added.
“Whoever we played, we were always going to come flying out of the traps, trying to get on the front foot from the off.
“We were determined to put a few things right and I think we certainly did that.
“The early goal was so important, and it also gives the fans a lift as well.
“They’ve not had too much to cheer about over the last few weeks, so it was nice to give them something to enjoy.”