Hatters boss won’t be happy if Walton fails to return from England U21 duty in time

Luton keeper Christian Walton
Luton keeper Christian Walton

Hatters boss Nathan Jones conceded he will be bitterly disappointed if he is unable to select goalkeeper Christian Walton for the League Two clash against Crewe Alexandra on Saturday.

The 20-year-old flew out to Kazakhstan with the England U21s this week for their UEFA European Championship U21 qualifier that takes kicks off at 4pm this afternoon.

All we ask is that we’re allowed to have him for Saturday, because we let him out in good faith, he’s a key member for us, and they know that.

Nathan Jones

Jones had revealed earlier in the week that an agreement was in place for Walton to return between the posts this weekend, although when asked if that was still the case today, said: “We hope so, we won’t say any more on that matter because he’s out there at the minute, and we just hope he’s available for us on Saturday, that’s all I’m prepared to say on that.

“If not, I’ll be very, very, very very, disappointed.”

When pressed further on the matter about Walton, who has played every single minute of League Two for Luton this term, Jones continued: “We have an agreement with England, we’ve shown them massive respect and I have regular contact with the people, I have good relationships with people in the English FA.

“All I’m saying is, we didn’t have to let him out, because we were notified late, but we did, because we want the boy to progress.

“He’s gone out there, so all we ask is that we’re allowed to have him for Saturday, because we let him out in good faith, he’s a key member for us, and they know that.

“There’s three (goalkeepers) who have travelled out there, he’s the only one actually playing league football at the minute, so we hope that we get him back so he continues his development, and it’s a big game for us.”

Jones would be more than happy for Walton to return to the national side for their next qualifier against Bosnia and Herzegovina at Walsall FC on Tuesday, saying: “Yes, in theory, he can go and do that, not a problem with us.”

If Walton doesn’t return, then Craig King would deputise in his place, with Jones confirming the youngster, who saved a penalty in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday night, is ready for his full league debut.

He said: “Craig’s done very, very well for us and Kevin Dearden’s done fantastically well with all the players he has here.

“He’s improved every keeper since I’ve been here and he’s done that sufficiently with Craig King, that now he’s a first team goalkeeper and he’s at a level that we’re very, very happy with.”

On potentially playing this weekend, King added: “Everyone wants to make their league debut but, as a number two, you’ve always got to be ready, just in case anyway.

“So, if Chris goes down in the first minute I’m switched on and I’m there to hopefully get the points for our first team.

“We’ll just have to wait to see what happens, anything could happen so I’ve just got to be mentally prepared to play.

“If not, it’s fine. I don’t expect to, but I’ll just be ready in case. I’m still young, so I’ll just keep working hard in training, have the right attitude and hopefully I’ll get my chance in the future.”