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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 21 May, 2019

World Cup ambitions one of the reasons behind Walters' Burnley switch

The striker is in Ireland with his new team-mates this week as the Clarets prepare for the season ahead.

JON WALTERS SAYS joining Burnley was an ‘exciting opportunity’ he couldn’t turn down andsaw the move as a chance to enhance the prospects of playing at next summer’s World Cup.

Republic of Ireland v Georgia - World Cup Qualifying - Group D - Aviva Stadium Walters and Burnley are in Ireland for pre-season this week. Source: Niall Carson

The Ireland international completed his switch from Stoke to Turf Moor on a two-year deal last week and joined up with his new team-mates during their pre-season camp in Ireland yesterday.

Having started just 13 Premier League games for Stoke last season, Walters wants to get sufficient game time at club level to remain in Martin O’Neill’s plans should Ireland quality for Russia.

“I’m delighted with the move. I’d been at Stoke a long time – there’s only a couple of lads who have been there a bit longer than me – but I just felt the time was right,” he told Burnley’s website.

“Things change in football and circumstances change and I just thought the time was right. Stoke had an offer accepted and it was on my toes then.

“I hadn’t spoken to anyone at Stoke, but I spoke to the manager here and I was delighted it got finalised because I know a few of the boys here and that makes the whole thing easier.”

The 33-year-old added: “I see this as a new, exciting challenge and one I am looking forward to.

“I want to get to the World Cup with Ireland and that was in the back of my mind because it’s about club form first, and hopefully that will carry on.

“Burnley did ever so well staying in the Premier League last year; that’s difficult enough, but the second season syndrome can hit a lot of teams and we have to make sure that doesn’t happen here.

“If you stand still as a team you can almost go backwards.

“You have to keep the hunger in the squad because that’s massive. This is a huge year, but my first impressions are that everyone is raring to go again and there’s a good team spirit here.

“That adds a hell of a lot to the challenge we have ahead.”

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