Brighton manager Graham Potter has issued an optimistic injury update on goalkeeper Christian Walton, who limped out of Saturday’s 1-1 friendly draw against Chelsea.
The 24-year-old landed awkwardly on his right ankle after catching a cross during the match at the Amex Stadium and, following a scan the next day, the Seagulls boss was encouraged by the prognosis, although the ‘keeper is still set to be sidelined for the foreseeable future.
Potter told Brighton’s official website: “Christian’s ankle is still badly swollen, although we are hopeful the prognosis is not as severe as we initially feared.
“We still need to let the swelling subside before we can fully assess the extent and put a definitive date on his return, but we are hopeful it will be weeks as opposed to months before he is back.”
Walton has not featured in a competitive first team game for Brighton since May 2015 and has played just four times for the club in official fixtures, although he had a beneficial loan spell at Blackburn last season, playing for the entirety of their Championship campaign. He kept 12 clean sheets in his 46 appearances (26.1% of games) and conceded 63 goals (1.37 per game), a slightly better rate than first-choice Seagulls ‘keeper Mat Ryan with 54 in 38 top-flight matches (1.42 per game).
While Potter has been hugely loyal to the Australian, who was ever-present in the Premier League last term, he has plenty of choice when it comes to backup options for the 28-year-old.
Aside from Walton, there is also Robert Sanchez, who featured briefly in the game against Chelsea and was on loan at Rochdale in 2019/20. However, a concession rate of 53 in 35 matches for the League One side (1.51 game) does not bode particularly well for his prospects at the Amex.
David Button is another option, although he is reportedly the subject of transfer talks with West Brom amid a possible exit from Brighton; and Potter also has Jason Steele, who has made just one senior appearance for the Seagulls since his move from Sunderland in 2018.
With Ryan such an emphatic first choice, Walton’s injury absence should not discommode Potter’s first team plans too greatly, particularly with the results of the scan eliciting a positive response from the manager, who has a sizeable quantity of alternatives.
Who is your preferred backup option to Mat Ryan?
However, with the 24-year-old suffering that setback just after a promising spell at Blackburn, he would perhaps have been next in line after Ryan; and should anything happen to the Australian, Brighton would then be depending on ‘keepers who have either been linked with a move away or struggled for opportunities at the club.
Brighton fans, how big a blow is it to have Walton sidelined with injury? Comment below with your views!
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