Why Joe Gallen believes ex-Tottenham man Anton Walkes has 'looked the part' in midfield for Portsmouth

Anton Walkes in action at Blackpool. Picture: Paul Thompson/ProSportsImages
Anton Walkes in action at Blackpool. Picture: Paul Thompson/ProSportsImages
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Joe Gallen reckons Anton Walkes’ best Pompey performances have come in central midfield. 

And the assistant manager feels it could be where the former Tottenham man’s future could reside.

Walkes arrived at Fratton Park in January 2018 on loan from the Premier League outfit, before making his switch permanent that summer. 

The former Atlanta United loanee has operated in numerous roles during his time at Pompey.

Primarily, he has featured in a right-back role and started the season in Kenny Jackett’s line-up in the full-back position.

Walkes struggled for form, though, and was dropped from Pompey’s XI, with the boss opting for Ross McCrorie and Christian Burgess instead.

However, the Lewisham-born man can also function in the middle of the park and has impressed in the past.

During the 2017-18 campaign, he shielded the defence magnificently in victories over Walsall and Wigan.

And Walkes has been reintroduced into that position of late. He came off the bench at Blackpool for McCrorie, with Gallen believing he ‘looked the part’ during the cameo.

He also played for the duration in the engine room during the 3-1 Leasing.com Trophy victory over Norwich under-21s and did equally as well.

Now Gallen feels Walkes is an option in the centre of midfield during the League One season.

He said: ‘I’d agree Anton’s best games have been when playing in central midfield.

‘I have a very good memory and remember the whole thing.

‘There was Walsall away when Gareth Evans scored and the epic against Wigan at Fratton Park when it finished 2-1.

‘Anton put in a great pass that enabled us to win a penalty when he put it in through a gap for Ben Close who was brought down. 

‘Anton played very in central midfield for us against Norwich. At right-back this season, he’d have liked to have played better.

‘But he came on at Blackpool in midfield for 20 minutes and he looked the part straight away.

‘If he keeps himself fit and goes and plays in that central-midfield role – providing that he keeps the ball like he did against Norwich – then hopefully that is another option for us.

‘That is why the Norwich game was another good day because there are some options for us going forward.'

Walkes endured some difficulties off the field last season.

He was banned from driving for two years after driving while disqualified, having previously been banned for not providing a specimen of breath when stopped by police during summer 2018.

Gallen is confident Walkes is over those issues, however, and it has proved a valuable learning curve in his life.

And although he’s on the periphery of things at Pompey, Jackett’s right-hand man holds the 22-year-old in high regard.

Gallen added: ‘I have got a lot of time for Anton. He is a very good professional.

‘I understand he had an issue last season but he has learnt from that.’

In total, Walkes has played 42 times for Pompey and scored two goals.