Pompey new boy has Premier League potential

Sports writer Tom Bonnett gets the lowdown on new Pompey signing Anton Walkes from Atlanta Journal Constitution journalist Doug Roberson.

Monday, 29th January 2018, 7:00 pm
Updated Monday, 29th January 2018, 8:17 pm
New Pompey loan signing Anton Walkes. Picture: Colin Farmery

Gerarda Martino made the deal for Anton Walkes because of his connections with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.

Atlanta brought him in to be a central defender, and was a backup until the coaches started getting frustrated with the starting right-back Tyrone Mears.

They moved Walkes into the position and he played there for 16 straight games. Martino always tried to get the full-backs to join the attack and play far forward with the midfield, so he had to get forward a lot.

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He struggled with his crossing at first, but because he works really hard in training he got a lot better, I thought, in his time at right-back.

According to OPTA stats, Walkes created ten chances during his time with Atlanta, one every two games. He could create a lot more down the middle because he would have more space to move around with the ball and get in to the right places.

His height and strength made him really good aerially, especially from corners at both ends of the field.

If he is going to play in central midfield then having been a box-to-box full-back and also being good at heading will really help him because his role would work the same way.

He is a great defender and will really help a team at that end of the field, he could lock it down for sure. He also handled the physicality of the MLS very well despite his age.

Myself and others spoke to Anton about his future at Spurs.

We all came to the conclusion that he probably won’t make it into their team because they are so stacked in defence.

But with some more experience and game time I think he could play in the Premier League one day. It might not be with Spurs, but it could be somewhere else.

I’m surprised Atlanta didn’t try and extend the loan deal for longer.

I think Tottenham probably were the reason he couldn’t stay for longer. He would have been good here for another season, but I’m sure Martino would be looking for a permanent player to play at right-back.

The loan deal worked out for him because he had to learn a lot in a position he wasn’t expecting to play.

I’m sure he is now more comfortable getting up the field and joining the attack than before he came here. It’s something you don’t really do as a central defender.