Loanee Review: Sam Walker

To round up the 2012-13 youth football season at Chelsea, we’re reviewing every single one of the Chelsea youngsters currently on the books who have spent time out on loan during the campaign. Here, we focus on Sam Walker.

Club(s): Bristol Rovers, Colchester United
Appearances: 14 (Bristol Rovers), 19 (Colchester United)

The Story
For the second consecutive season, Sam had loan spells in England’s third and fourth tiers, and they each came with wildly differing experiences and emotions. In 2012-13 he started out at Northampton Town and then moved up a level to play for Yeovil Town, but neither spell really worked out for him. The same effect seemed to be taking place in the first half of the season just completed when despite being a regular feature for Bristol Rovers, he would find himself conceding heavily with a rather inept defence in front of him.

Rovers’ terrible form saw the demise of manager Mark McGhee, and his replacement John Ward felt he needed a more experienced hand between the sticks and terminated Sam’s loan prematurely. In an interesting twist of fate, the giant custodian’s next stop was Ward’s old club Colchester United, who were bottom of League One and on a nine-game losing run at the low point of their campaign.

Manager Joe Dunne had no qualms in giving Sam the starting gloves and he kept an impressive seven clean sheets in his nineteen outings as the U’s made a startling about-turn in form to avoid relegation on the last day of the season. It was in no little part down to the performances of Sam and of fellow Chelsea loanee Billy Clifford.

The Future
Having now experienced the lower levels of the English game and come along very nicely, Sam will hope to find regular football in the upper echelons of League One or perhaps the Championship next term. He’ll turn 22 early in the season and be in his last year of contract at Chelsea, so any move could well be with a view to a permanent one as he looks to progress.