Christian Walton says he is ready to challenge Maty Ryan for the number one jersey at Albion.
Having spent the past four seasons gathering experience across the EFL, the 24-year-old returns to the Amex after a campaign at Blackburn Rovers in which he played every single minute of Championship football for Tony Mowbray’s side.
With nearly 170 career appearances already under his belt, the keeper wants to hit the ground running when Albion report back for pre-season.
He said, “I am looking forward to the challenge of trying to become the number one. Maty has been a consistent and key player for the three seasons that Brighton have had in the Premier League. He's had a good season, but I have had a good season as part of the loan journey that Brighton have put me on and I am ready now to go back and challenge.
“Training with high quality players every day is going to help me kick on and I can’t wait to be pushing Maty every step of the way as part of the goalkeeping team.
“Competition helps improve everybody, so it won’t just be positive for me but for the goalkeepers and the team. I really want the opportunity to play in the first team and I am only going to be able to do that if I come back, work hard and wait for my opportunity.”
Blackburn came close to finishing in the play-off places, but fell away in the final games of the campaign but Walton says he has learned a lot from the experience at Ewood Park.
“It’s been a good season. It was a change of scenery for me having been on loan at a few other clubs but Blackburn is the biggest in terms of their stature – their history is massive,” added Walton.
“I have played every single minute of league football and it’s been good to get a full season under my belt but I am ready now to go back to Brighton and challenge.
“I was at Wigan the season before and we won League One and we dominated every week. We had a really strong squad that included Dan Burn, Nick Powell and many others and we beat Manchester City and had a great FA Cup run.
“But this season I have really enjoyed playing at Ewood Park – it’s been good for all parties involved in my opinion.”
Walton came up against fellow Albion player Ben White, who helped Leeds United to the Championship title.
Walton added, “Ben has definitely got a big future ahead of him. I played against him twice this season – he’s been playing in an unbelievable team at Championship level with a manager that is renowned around the world.
“He’s been part of a team where winning has become a habit, playing in front of an unbelievable crowd at Elland Road which I’m sure does give you a boost.
It must have been a great experience for him to go through that at his age and I think he will be ready to come back to Brighton, like myself, and challenge for a place in the team.”