Saturday 24 February 2018

Jon Walters feared his Euro 2016 dream had died

Jon Walters
Jon Walters
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Jonathan Walters admits he feared his Euro 2016 dream would be ended by the knee injury that forced him to undergo surgery.

Walters scored for Stoke in their 2-1 win against Watford in mid-March, yet his joy was short lived after he feared the knee injury he was carrying was far more serious than he first feared.

“I was a little bit stiff after the Watford game but tried to go away with Ireland. When I woke up the next day the knee was really sore and swollen and I couldn’t bend it,” he said in an interview for Stoke’s matchday programme.

“I’ve never had that so I knew something wasn’t right and my first thoughts were the season and the Ireland games in the summer.

“You can have a bit of an anxious wait because you don’t want it to be serious. Even the MRI scan doesn’t show the true extent of things so until after the operation you aren’t really sure. I was very positive once I came around (from surgery) and set myself some targets.

“I did a lot of fitness work in the gym with the physios to keep my heart rate and lung capacity up so when I came back into training I was still fit and hitting the same level.

“The last thing you want is to be unconditioned when you return because I believe that is how the majority of secondary injuries like hamstring strains come about.”

Walters made his return to the Stoke side in last weekend’s 1-1 draw against Sunderland he is looking to finish the season on a high before joining up with Martin O’Neill’s Ireland squad ahead of the Euro 2016 adventure in France.

“I can’t think of anything worse than sitting out games at this time of the season because when you go into your training camps in the summer you want to be in peak condition and good form,” he added.

“I had a couple of twinges in my recovery, but that’s normal and now I want to get back in the side and build my confidence back up.”

Walters looks set to be a key figure in O’Neill’s plans this summer, with his return to fitness offering a huge boost to Ireland’s Euro 2016 hopes.

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