ROB Lainton has been urged to prove he has what it takes to become Bury’s number one keeper after Christian Walton’s season-long loan from Brighton was cut short due to injury.

It was confirmed on Tuesday – transfer deadline day – that Walton would remain at his parent club while he recovers from a groin problem.

Seagulls manager Chris Hughton said he wanted to manage the England Under-21 international’s rehabilitation with a view to getting him back out on loan “in the autumn”.

That decision left Lainton, aged 25, as Bury’s only senior stopper, although Shakers boss David Flitcroft also has youth-team graduate Jack Ruddy, 18, to call upon after his proposed move to Aston Villa fell through.

“Rob has got an opportunity,” said Flitcroft, who handed the former Wanderers keeper a 12-month extension to his contract in the summer but plumped to start the season with 19-year-old Walton as his number one.

“He can step up now and hopefully stake his claim but we have got a good goalkeeper (in Jack Ruddy) backing that up.”

Flitcroft said he was grateful for the “compassion” shown by Brighton following the injury to Walton, who had endured a difficult start to his spell at Bury after conceding 15 goals in the opening six games of the campaign.

“The deal was tied up to the end of the season, but thankfully they have been able to be compassionate about it and make sure Christian can go back into an environment that is good for him,” he said.

“I am delighted with how Brighton have done the deal and the understanding that Chris Hughton has shown because we don’t know how long the injury is going to be.

“It’s freed up Christian to potentially go out somewhere else.

“There’s no doubt he is going to be a top, top goalkeeper but the injury just cut the loan short.

“It’s a shame for the kid, but he’s someone who has definitely got a massive future in the game.”