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Walters 'settled' on and off the pitch
Published : 07 Oct 2010 08:19:00
Stoke forward Jon Walters believes his recent form on the pitch owes much to the settled life he is now leading off it. The 27-year-old has made a notable contribution for the Potters since joining from Ipswich in August and last weekend scored his first Premier League goal to secure a 1-0 victory against Blackburn, one of his former clubs. Walters played for Blackburn in his youth before being signed by current Rovers manager Sam Allardyce for Bolton, but he made only a handful of appearances for Wanderers and moved on to various lower-league outfits after that. The Birkenhead-born player admits he did not look after himself properly as a youngster, but now things have calmed down for him away from football, Walters feels he will be able to make the most of his return to top-flight competition. "I've done well and settled in nicely," Walters said. "I'm working hard on and off the pitch and settling into the team. "Getting everything sorted off the pitch helps on it and the people at the club, the backroom staff, have helped me to do that. "If you can settle off the pitch, it all comes together on it." Walters also netted in Stoke's Carling Cup win over Shrewsbury and was controversially denied a league goal on his Potters debut when his late header against Tottenham was adjudged not to have crossed the line. His strike against Blackburn went some way to making up for that disappointment and now Walters is looking to get one over on another of his former employers when Stoke travel to Bolton after the international break. "It was nice to get it," Walters said of his winner at the weekend. "Your first goal in the Premier League is massive and it was a little bit sweeter with it being against one of my former clubs. "Hopefully I can do it again in a couple of weeks against another one, Bolton." Tony Pulis' side will go into the match at the Reebok Stadium in good form, having bounced back from three straight league defeats at the start of the season to record four wins in their last five games in all competitions. That sequence began with a dramatic come-from-behind victory over Aston Villa, inspired by a team-talk from Pulis, who spoke to the players at half-time having arrived at the ground after kick-off because he had been with his family following the death of his mother. The manager has certainly made a big impression on Walters. "You know what he has done over the past few years and the sort of manager that he is," Walters said. "Nobody expected him to be there that day but he turned up and it lifted everyone. He is like that around the place day in, day out and he is great with all the lads. "It's like one great big family at Stoke, a great atmosphere between all the boys. "We didn't start the season the best but we have really come to the fore in the last few games. "We are now one of the form teams in the league and, including the cup game, it is four wins out of five, which is great. "You'll get parts of the season where you are winning games like that and then there will be parts when you're on a bad run, so we've just got to keep it going as long as we can now."