Walton targets England U21 debut against Bosnia and Herzegovina
Hatters keeper Christian Walton is hoping to make his England U21 debut during their final UEFA European Championship U21 group nine qualifier against Bosnia and Herzegovina at Walsall FC tomorrow afternoon.
The 20-year-old had been a late call-up to the squad that travelled out to Kazakhstan last week, due to Jordan Pickford’s withdrawal, although was an unused substitute in the 1-0 victory.
With qualification for the finals now secure, Walton, who has represented England at both U19 and U20 level, would love to take that next step, as he said: “I’m looking forward to Tuesday and if I do get a start it would be great for me, one I’ll look forward to, show them what I’m about and what I can do for England.
“I’ve had it before in the 19s and 20s, I’ve made a few appearances for England so it’s nothing I wasn’t used to, putting on that kit, but it’s a great honour every time you do get that call.
“The England honour comes as an added bonus when you’re doing well. I’ve been lucky enough to get my chance so hopefully on Tuesday I’ll get a start, maybe.”
Walton admitted there had been an element of surprise he wasn’t involved in the 1-0 win in Kazakhstan last Thursday, with Newcastle United’s Freddie Woodman given the nod.
With fellow Luton loanee Jonathan Mitchell also in the squad, it meant Walton was the only one of the three who have played first team football this season, with the on-loan Brighton stopper not missing a minute of Town’s League Two campaign so far, making 12 appearances, plus both Capital One Cup matches too.
When asked if he thought he might start, Walton said: “Maybe you’d think so, but it’s what England think, it’s their opinion, it’s not down to me who picks the team.
“Obviously, I’m the only one out of the three that were there, playing league football. I did think I may have got a chance but it was a good experience, being away, one I really enjoyed.
“It’s just a great experience for anyone if you do go, the way it’s set up and the players you’re training with are a high calibre of player.
“You’re visiting different countres, so it’s good for my CV, as you’re always learning and improving as a player.”
Walton dashed back to Luton to make sure he retained his ever-present status in the league this term, producing another assured display between the posts for Town in the 1-1 draw against Crewe Alexandra on Saturday.
He continued: “That was always the plan; me coming back and playing for Luton because that’s the most important thing for me at the minute, is my club football.
“I came back yesterday (Friday) morning to Birmingham at about 4 o’clock and I got back to my house at 6:30am.
“It was a quick turnaround but that’s the life of a footballer, so it’s one you have to deal with. I felt I coped well.
“It was nice to make some saves as always, that’s what I’m there for. They didn’t really hurt us that much in the second half apart from the goal which was disappointing.”
Boss Nathan Jones was also surprised Walton hadn’t been picked by U21s boss Aidy Boothroyd after his late selection, as he said: “There’s an element of frustration there, but we can’t affect it.
“The fact that he went all the way to Kazakhstan and didn’t have any preparation with us wasn’t ideal, but Christian’s a real professional and I don’t think it affected his performance in any way as I thought he was excellent.
“In the first half he made an excellent stop and just looked secure in everything he did and that’s what we’ve come to expect from him.”
Walton has now set his sights on playing every game for the Hatters this term, before even considering selection for the Euros U21 Finals out in Poland next year.
He added: “That’s next summer and there’s a lot of keepers around. I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing with Luton Town and it comes as a bonus if I do get selected for the Euros in Poland.
“If not, I’ll keep working hard at club football and see what happens.”