Hatters keeper discusses international duty and Crewe
Hatters keeper Christian Walton linked back up with England Under-21s on Saturday night after returning from Kazakhstan to play in that afternoon’s 1-1 draw with Crewe.
It was something of a whirlwind week for the on-loan Brighton goalie, who was called up eight days ago when Sunderland’s Jordan Pickford pulled out of the squad Aidy Boothroyd had named for the Euro 2017 qualifiers.
A 1-0 win in Kazakhstan secured England’s path through to the finals, although 20-year-old Walton did not play.
When we spoke to him for Hatters Player immediately after the game on Saturday, the Cornwall-born keeper was grateful for the opportunity and, having been in the squad last season without playing, he is hopeful of gaining a first cap at U21 level in tomorrow’s game against Bosnia & Herzegovina.
“It was really good,” he said. “It was another great experience for myself and it’s always an honour to go away and represent your country at any level. It was a good five days, but good to be back and on home turf today, just disappointed we didn’t get all three points.
“The game was on Thursday night. Yesterday morning we did a recovery session and got on the flight at 2pm their time, which is 10am our time. I got back to my house at 6.30pm last night.
“It was a quick turnaround, but that’s the life of a footballer I suppose and it’s how you deal with it. Mentally on the pitch today I felt like I coped.”
Christian is currently sharing a flat with his former Brighton team-mate Glen Rea. The big question was: Did the Hatters midfielder have his dinner waiting for him when he got back to St Albans?
“No chance!” laughed Walton. “It wasn’t happening. I think a few of the lads had been onto him saying ‘You’ve got to sort your mate out’, but no – no sign of that dinner!”
Despite having to fend for himself, the former Plymouth youngster says it didn’t affect his preparation.
“I always like to prepare in the best way that I can, and that started for me on Thursday night as soon as the game finished, making sure I was topped up for training and coming back to play today, because like I said, it’s difficult but it’s how you deal with it and coming through that is probably a tough point, but I felt all right, so it was positive.”
The Football Association send a car to collect the players to take them to their meeting point. In Christian’s case on Saturday night, it was to return to the group at St George’s Park to prepare for Tuesday’s match, which takes place at Walsall’s Banks’s Stadium at 3pm.
“It’s a quick shower now and get home, then I’ll be on my way at 7.30 back up to St George’s Park,” he said. “I would have thought tomorrow would be just light training, and then into the game on Tuesday, for which I’m in contention to start. I’m looking forward to the next three days.”
If Walton is selected ahead of Newcastle’s Freddie Woodman, who played in Kazakhstan, and Derby's former Town loanee Jonathan Mitchell, it will be a first U21 cap to add to the dozen he has from U19 and 20 level.
“I’ll be looking forward to it and if I do get the chance to play, it’ll be a massive honour for myself and it’s a great thing to have on your CV,” he added. “At the end of the day it’s one step away from the England senior team, so it’s a massive honour for myself and one I’ll look forward to.”