herald

Tuesday 25 July 2017

Walters' aim is world cup

Russia 2018 a motive for move

Jonathan Walters training yesterday with Burnley in Carton House, Maynooth.
Jonathan Walters training yesterday with Burnley in Carton House, Maynooth.

Jonathan Walters says that his World Cup dream with Ireland was one of the factors behind his decision to quit Stoke City and move to the ever-growing Irish colony at Burnley.

Walters is on familiar territory this week as, while most of their Premier League rivals have travelled to continental Europe, Asia, Africa or the USA for pre-season, Burnley are ensconced in Maynooth this week, with a friendly lined up against Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght Stadium on Friday night.

Successful

The presence of compatriots Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, Stephen Ward and Kevin Long would have made it easy for Walters to settle in at his new club, following a successful seven-year stay at Stoke.

And Walters claims it was his desire for regular first-team football, to keep him in the frame at international level, which led to his exit.

"I want to get to the World Cup with Ireland and that was in the back of my mind because it's about club form first, and hopefully that will carry on," says Walters, who started just 13 Premier League games for Mark Hughes' side last term.

"I was delighted it got finalised because I know a few of the boys here and that makes the whole thing easier. I see this as a new, exciting challenge and one I am looking forward to.

"I'm delighted with the move. I'd been at Stoke a long time - there's only a couple of lads who have been there a bit longer than me - but I just felt the time was right. I see this as a new, exciting challenge and one I am looking forward to.

"Burnley did ever so well staying in the Premier League last year; that's difficult enough, but the second season syndrome can hit a lot of teams and we have to make sure that doesn't happen here.

"If you stand still as a team you can almost go backwards. You have to keep the hunger in the squad because that's massive. This is a huge year, but my first impressions are that everyone is raring to go again and there's a good team spirit here. That adds a hell of a lot to the challenge we have ahead," added the veteran.

Walters was a popular figure with the Stoke fans and he has promised to deliver the same level of effort for his new employers.

"I will give it everything and you'll get every last ounce from me, wherever I play," he said.

"I can play in a number of positions and prefer playing up front.

"From Christmas onwards last year I think I played 10 of 11 games up front and scored four, then got a couple with Ireland, so that's my favourite position.

"I'll play anywhere across the front four though and there's a lot of hard work ahead now to try and get in the team and do well."

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