Friday 13 December 2019

Walters vows to give Trap selection dilemma after finding form

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

JONATHAN Walters will begin his Euro 2012 preparations in good form tomorrow after ending his goal drought last weekend -- but the Stoke man admits he was surprised that the strike that relieved his frustration was allowed to stand.

The Irish frontman opened the scoring in Stoke's final-day meeting with Bolton, yet there was a degree of controversy as he appeared to bundle opposition 'keeper Adam Bogdan over the line. "I was looking at the linesman and looking at the ref and I wasn't sure that it was going to be given," said Walters.

However, the referee pointed to the centre circle, and his three-month wait for a goal was over. He later emphatically converted a penalty to secure a 2-2 draw, although he last night told the Irish Independent that it left him with mixed emotions as it relegated one of his former clubs.

"I didn't really want to celebrate because I know a couple of lads at Bolton, and it wasn't a nice situation to be in," he added.

From Walters' point of view, though, it was a satisfactory conclusion to a campaign that sometimes provided frustration. His brace took his club total for the season to 11 goals, thus meeting his target of hitting double figures.


Walters remains a firm favourite of Tony Pulis, and his versatility meant that he was played in a variety of positions in the second half of the campaign; mostly away from his preferred striking berth.

The Irish situation is straightforward in comparison. Giovanni Trapattoni will always go with two strikers and, with Robbie Keane certain to be the withdrawn member of the partnership, Walters is vying with Kevin Doyle, Shane Long and Simon Cox for the responsibility of leading the line.

He thrived in that role in the first leg of the play-off win over Estonia, and hopes that he has left Trapattoni with a dilemma.

Still, he acknowledges that the Italian's attacking options can travel to Poland knowing they are likely to see more game time than those contesting other positions.

"We might get more of an idea what the manager is thinking in the friendlies," he said. "He's got different types of players available.

"The thing about being a striker is that you've got a better chance of getting involved. If we're in front then he might bring on a striker to try and hold it up. And if we're chasing the game, the manager will probably look to the bench and bring on a striker to try and rescue something. So you tend to get more game time than any other position.

"I'm just looking forward to putting my case forward if I get a chance in the friendlies."

Walters will attend the wedding of his Stoke team-mate Glenn Whelan today before starting training in Portmarnock tomorrow.

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