Blackburn Rovers manager Tony Mowbray has suggested that he decided to stick with Christian Walton as the club’s first choice keeper in January, rather than opt to bring in another player between the sticks.
Walton has firmly established himself as Rovers’ first choice keeper so far this season, after signing on loan from Premier League Brighton in the summer to replace David Raya, who headed to Brentford, and the 24-year-old has been an ever present for Mowbray’s side in the Championship so far.
There have been occasions throughout the season where Walton’s performances have been scrutinised by some of Rovers’ supporters, and Blackburn will still be needing to find a long-term permanent number one in the summer, but Mowbray is set to stick with Walton, who kept his 10th clean sheet for the club in their win over Hull City.
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Speaking to the Lancashire Telegraph, Mowbray suggested that Rovers were given the option of sending Walton back to Brighton in January by his parent club, but that he decided against the option of doing that and having to find a replacement in the winter window.
He said: “I’ve had some good chats with Christian, he’s had some spells where questions have been asked.
“I think in this window Brighton phoned and asked if we’re sending him back or keeping him.
“I sat him down and said he was going to be our goalie and have total faith in him and I think that’s what he needed, to know the manager was supporting him.
“I’ve never been one for chopping and changing my goalies. They are allowed to make mistakes or soft goals go in, as long as they’ve got the character and show their personality to keep making saves and coming for crosses and be the goalie we want them to be.”
Mowbray is probably right to have opted to keep his faith in Walton in the January transfer window, with the keeper having produced some encouraging performances throughout the first half of the campaign and formed an effective relationship with his back four.
Rovers, though, could have considered searching for a long-term replacement for Raya in the January window to avoid the need to have to spend time in the summer trying to identify a potential new number one, and it will be interesting to see what happens in their keeper search in the summer.
For now, though, Walton will be looking to build on some of his recent encouraging performances, and to have ten clean sheets at this stage of the season is an impressive tally for the Brighton loanee, who could once again face an uncertain summer when he returns to his parent club.
Blackburn could yet potentially even opt to try and get Walton on a permanent deal in the summer, but that could well depend on how he performs for them during the rest of the campaign.