Following on from our piece on Patrick Bamford yesterday, Brian Barry is of the belief that Jonathan Walters is the answer to Ireland’ s striking problems.
Jonathan Walters now has 100 career goals to his name, as his form continues to rise with Stoke City. With four goals in the Premier League this season, many are beginning to take note of the Republic of Ireland star.
He is striking fear into the hearts of defenders around the league, but many the Irish fan is left wondering if he is ever going to produce the same form for the national side.
Walters has proven again and again for Stoke City that he can score goals when in the box. With the ball at his feet, he is dangerous. Any time he gets into the opposition area, he can be a threat. It is no wonder that he is the only Republic of Ireland striker since Robbie Keane to consistently hold down a starting berth at a Premier League club.
Firstly, be it under the management of Giovanni Trapattoni or Martin O’Neill, Walters has been played out of position. Granted he has strength and pace, but he is not a winger. He is deployed out wide, particularly against strong teams, but high balls to a big winger on the the halfway line will not lead to goals.
If Walters is to win an aerial battle out wide, there is still little to no chance of creating a goal. He is a proven goalscorer at club level, and is a waste on the wing, especially when Ireland are embarrassed with gifted wingers.
Additionally, Ireland typically are on the back foot. Therefore, it is rare that the opposition defence stands off an Irish attacker. When Walters does get the ball at his feet in the opposition box, it is typically a rushed pass, and defenders are closing in fast.
Against Crystal Palace last weekend, Walters put in a tireless performance, typical of why his is such a hit at the Britannia Stadium. His deflected shot fell into the path of Peter Crouch to slot home the equaliser. Overall, he was effective in attack, holding the ball and bringing others into play. Over the four preceding games, he had scored three and assisted another.
Jon Walters is one of the form strikers in England at present, but does not produce the same level in the green shirt. He is misused by management.
As there are no other standout candidates to truly replace Robbie Keane, apart from a certain Patrick Bamford that has his heart set on England, Walters is a striker who can get goals for Ireland.
Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane must devise a plan to ensure the Irish attack revolves around the Stoke City striker, or we can say goodbye to any dreams of qualification for major tournaments.
Brian Barry, Pundit Arena.