Glyn Hodges has added experience between the sticks for AFC Wimbledon by signing Sam Walker on loan from Reading.
The 29-year-old has made over 250 appearances in the Football League, including reaching the double century at Colchester United, his form there earning the chance to play Championship football with Reading.
Sam, who is a commanding presence at 6ft 6 inches, joins us on a loan deal for the rest of this season, and our manager believes that his experience will prove invaluable at a crucial time of the 2020/21 campaign.
“We are delighted to have him,” said Glyn. “He is experienced, a good size, and a good personality. We keep mentioning about the young side we’ve got, so hopefully he will bring his experience to the group. We have a good relationship with Reading, I am friends with their first-team coach, so that helps. Obviously, when you are doing your work and the goalkeeper comes up on your list you do your research and ring around. We had great reviews on Sam and he was a signing that we couldn’t turn down.
“We’ve had a list of goalkeepers right the way through from the summer. That’s no disrespect to Connal, who was on that list, but when the budget wasn’t there to do a permanent one we had to look at the loan market. At this time last year we brought in Joe Day, who added his experience and settled things down. He was great for us, and hopefully Sam can have the same effect and maybe improve us.”
Sam started his football career with his local club Gravesend & Northfleet before joining Millwall’s academy as a teenager. However, Chelsea signed him as a 15-year-old, and Sam went onto win the FA Youth Cup with the Premier League club. Though a first-team opportunity with Chelsea eluded Sam, he had loan spells with Barnet, Northampton, Yeovil Town, Bristol Rovers, and Colchester United, signing permanently with the Essex club in 2014. After four years there, Sam joined Reading in 2018, making seven appearances for the Royals.
Sam said: “My size has always been the big factor, that’s why I was stuck in goal in the first place when I was younger! It snowballed from there and I had an incredible football education at Chelsea. I made a conscious decision to go out on loan from a young age and that involved playing for clubs at the wrong end of the table. I did that three times with Colchester and I haven’t been relegated yet. I know what it takes to be down there when the pressure is on. It’s about staying organised, competing in every game, and picking up the results to propel yourself away from the danger zone.
“I have heard great things about the goalkeeper coach Bayzo, so I am really looking forward to working with him. I have also played against quite a few of the lads here in League One and League Two, so I am looking forward to getting to know them. I like to think that my size brings that presence in leading the back-line, and distribution is also a key part of my game.”
Most recently, Sam played two matches for Blackpool on an emergency loan deal, which included saving a penalty against Bristol Rovers, and he could make his debut on Tuesday night against the same club in the Papa John’s Trophy.
Click on the link below to catch a glimpse of Sam in his first training session with the Dons, plus Rob Cornell's first interview with our new signing.