Newly promoted Wigan Athletic have made a very commendable start to the season and are currently sitting ninth in the Championship table. Crucial to that good start have been the performances of 22-year-old goalkeeper Christian Walton.
Latics re-signed the Brighton and Hove Albion keeper on a season-long loan deal after an impressive campaign in the League One winning team. The Wadebridge born player kept 19 clean sheets in 31 league games last season as he won the League One Golden Glove.
The 6ft 5in keeper signed a new four-year contract at the AMEX Stadium in July 2017 but Brighton decided Walton’s development was best served by remaining with Latics as they have three experienced keepers in Mat Ryan, David Button and Jason Steele.
Walton made his debut for Latics on the opening day of 2017–18 in a 1–0 victory away to Milton Keynes Dons and despite breaking his leg in a training session at the beginning of his Latics loan he has now made 46 appearances conceding only 33 goals during the period.
Walton helped Latics to progress to the last eight of the FA Cup last season, beating Premier League sides Bournemouth, West Ham and Manchester City before losing to Southampton despite Walton saving a penalty.
His excellent performances during the Cup run will have highlighted his potential and brought him to the attention of Premier League clubs.
He has once again excelled this term keeping four clean sheets in a new and young defensive line-up with Reece James (18), Cedric Kipre (21), Chey Dunkley (26) and Antonee Robinson (21).
Latics were particularly impressive in September as they won three of their five league games; with a return of nine points the fourth best haul in that time.
Walton was the only Latics player included in the Championship team of the month producing more saves (21) than any other keeper.
He is very calm under pressure as was evidenced in his performance against Manchester City in the FA Cup, he commands his area to great effect and has exceptional shot-stopping abilities.
Walton is already performing at a consistently high level in the Championship; he rarely makes a mistake and is constantly improving his performances.
He maintains a high level of concentration throughout the games which shows a maturity way beyond his years.
He has just surpassed 100 career appearances and goalkeepers usually improve with experience so he is likely to have a great career.
Latics have been very lucky to acquire the services of a top keeper but worryingly the current loan deal does allow Brighton to recall Walton in January 2019 if required.
Walton has represented England at under-19, under-20 and under-21 levels and has a very bright future ahead. He will no doubt become a Premier League regular in the near future, but whether it’s with Latics, Brighton or another team we will just have to wait and see.