A ‘fitter and stronger’ Brad Walker is hoping to reap benefits for Hartlepool United

HUFC training at Catterick.

HUFC training at Catterick.

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Brad Walker is feeling “fitter and stronger” than ever after the hardest pre-season he has ever been involved in.

The Hartlepool United midfielder said he could barely bring himself to talk about the first two weeks training, which included a week-long Army bootcamp at Catterick Garrison.

This is the hardest pre-season I have ever done.

Brad Walker, Pools midfielder

But the 20-year-old from Billingham is now looking forward to making his mark on the football pitch after the pre-season friendlies finally arrived this week.

Walker scored twice in the 7-0 win over Billingham Town and he admits he feels back to his best.

The central midfielder broke into the first team two years ago under Colin Cooper winning rave reviews, awards and call-ups to England youth training camps.

But he struggled to make a similar impact last term, something he wants to put behind him.

Walker told SportMail: “This is the hardest pre-season I have ever done.

“The first week was so hard and the second week got even harder - I can’t even speak about it!

“Results aren’t really important at this stage - it is about getting the cobwebs out and building fitness.

“But I feel fitter and stronger and I am looking forward to going into the new season feeling really strong.

“The lads have looked really good so far and the work at the Army camp has really helped, certainly fitness wise.

“As a footballer you just want to see a football but we didn’t see one for the first three days of pre-season, just running around a track!

“Hopefully we go into the new season fitter than anyone else.”

Reflecting on last year, Walker added: “Last pre-season wasn’t the best but this year I am back flying.

“I don’t really set goals but I know what I want to achieve - I will be keeping that to myself though!

“If it comes off it will be good.”