Appleton delivers Walker warning

122768_COLCHESTER_PFC_21/8/12''(left) Liam Walker and (right) Michael Rose. Colchester United FC V Portsmouth FC at Colchester. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (122768-069)
122768_COLCHESTER_PFC_21/8/12''(left) Liam Walker and (right) Michael Rose. Colchester United FC V Portsmouth FC at Colchester. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (122768-069)
Pompey were beaten at Southend. Picture: Joe Pepler

Gaffer: Pompey must stop giving themselves mountain to climb

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He’s the unknown quantity and English football rookie who has emerged as one of Pompey’s outstanding summer recruits.

Yet Michael Appleton is adamant Pompey will not see the best of Liam Walker until March.

The 24-year-old’s remarkable rise was capped on Tuesday when he turned in a man-of-the-match debut display at Colchester.

Plucked from the Spanish third division having impressed on the Astroturf for Gibraltar, his entrance on the Pompey scene oozes footballing romance.

Such as been his impact, Appleton opted to grant him a start at the Weston Homes Community Stadium within hours of being given international clearance.

The midfielder responded by creating Luke Rodgers’ opener and also striking the post during the 2-2 draw.

A magnificent first impression in a Pompey shirt.

However, Appleton believes it is likely to take until the new year before Walker can really shine brightest.

He said: ‘I have said this to the boy, his dad and everyone – it’s just potential at the minute.

‘The boy has got ability but before Tuesday he had not played a league game for anyone other than in the third division in Spain.

‘If he fulfils his potential you won’t see anywhere near the best of Liam Walker until March – but before then you will see glimpses of that potential he has got.

‘He can completely shock me and be outstanding from day one. I’m sure he will be fantastic for the first month or so.

‘But the way I see someone like Liam – and I have asked him to take this with the greatest of respect – is it’s almost like getting a 17/18 year-old with great potential but he’s got to prove himself in league football in England.

‘I am sure he will, but you have just got to bare with him and give him time.

‘Why do I think that? Well, it’s because I have worked at every level of a football club and know what it takes for players in his position.

‘Liam has no experience of English football other than watching it on Sky Sports over in Gibraltar. He has come over here, done great in pre-season games and has had a taste of what it might be.

‘But I think someone like him will have a lot of lows and highs over the next few months and then eventually will come good.

‘We will probably see the best of him after Christmas, that is just me surmising how it is going to pan out.’

Walker was the top scorer with Spanish side Santa Roque last season.

They were keen to keep him, but firstly the Gibraltar-born player wanted to see if he could impress in his country’s friendlies against Pompey and Notts County.

He did enough against Appleton’s men to be invited for a trial – which was then extended.

Now he has penned a month’s contract and is staying with family in Waterlooville.

His superb debut against Colchester continues to enhance a reputation which is rapidly growing.

Suddenly the player turned away by a clutch of English clubs when he was a schoolboy is showing what he is all about.

Appleton added: ‘I don’t want to big Liam up too much because he will go through a period when we will be sat here at some point going: “He has not played particularly great for three or four games, he’s not been involved”.

‘And I will say to people: “Just trust me on this one”.

‘We will manage him in the right way. Come the end of the season it will be best for him and the football club.’