Jim's Keeping It Clean

HAVING conceded just one goal in his last four games, goalkeeper Jimmy Walker is forming an admirable last line of defence. But the ever-modest stopper is keen to place the credit firmly at the door of his defence, with young centre-backs Elliott Ward and Anton Ferdinand earning particular praise from Jim.

"I can't speak highly enough of Elliott and Anton," he exclaimed. "They were fantastic at Stoke, playing against two big, powerful lads they dealt with it really well, just like they have done in all the games over the last few weeks.

"Since they started playing together we've gone seven games unbeaten, and that tells it's own story. They know each other well, they're good friends off the field and I think that makes a difference when they play together.

"They know each other's games and they compliment each other really well. It's terrific for the Club to have two young centre-halves as good as them coming through at the same time.

"At 20-years-old you expect them to make a few mistakes here and there, but they've been magnificent and hopefully they can keep that form going right through until the end of the season.

"We've had a good run of clean sheets for sure, and the whole team have to take credit for that - from the goalkeeper to the forwards.

"Hopefully, I've done my bit to contribute and now we need more of the same in these last three games."

Jim has been especially impressed with the maturity of the two Academy graduates since taking over in the centre of defence, particularly as it makes his own job a lot more comfortable.

"As a goalkeeper you just love to see your two centre-backs as powerful in the air as they are," he explained. "They won everything at Stoke. Elliott lost one of their big strikers early on, but he didn't let it affect him and he just grew in strength as the game went on.

"They've both got plenty of confidence, but I wouldn't let their heads drop in any case because if I can keep them playing well it makes my job a whole lot easier."

With Brighton sure to adopt a direct approach on Saturday, Jim and his defenders could be in for another busy afternoon. And with the Withdean atmosphere notoriously testing, he admits it will be a huge game.

"Every game is massive now," confessed Jim, "but we'll just approach it in a similar way. We're on a good run, there's plenty of confidence in the side and it's up to us to keep that going at Brighton.

"It's a difficult place to play, but we've been to other difficult places and won, so there's no reason why we can't do the same there. Our away record has been good over the last few weeks and hopefully we can keep that going.

"Our mentality at the moment is all about treating each game as a must-win and making sure we go out and take maximum points whoever and wherever we are playing."