COLIN Cooper believes Hartlepool United teen sensation Brad Walker is in contention for an England cap.
The midfielder, from Billingham, was today set to line up in the centre of the field for Pools at Victoria Park against Rochdale, coincidentally the club he made his League Two debut against.
Such has been the 17-year-old’s rapid progress since that opening day of the season, he has just completed his second stint at an England U18 training camp.
“[Coach] Neil Dewsnip was very complimentary about how he handled himself and how he performed,” Cooper explained. “Without pre-empting anything, if there’s an England under-18s fixture in the near future then I would think he may be included in it.
“It’s a massive pat on the back for him.
“They have recognised his ability and the way we have been trying to play here gives him an opportunity to showcase that talent.
“When he’s been called into the development squads then he’s done well – as a young man and as a footballer.
“Let’s hope he gets a chance. It’s brilliant recognition for him, his family and us.
“When you look at the list of players and clubs involved, it’s a real shot in the arm as a club.
“Brad has stood up and showed he is more than capable of being able to play League football week-in, week-out and also match his peers at his own age group – be it whether they are from Liverpool, Chelsea or whoever.
“He has technical talent and at 6ft 2in, physicality isn’t a problem, neither is fitness.”
Cooper has more than just his midfield prospect’s success to get excited about.
The boss says he is near to announcing the arrival of one or two new players.
Cooper told SportMail yesterday that he was waiting on a couple of phone calls and it seems as though he is close to some success.
Rumours include the much-travelled striker Marlon Harewood and Middlesbrough forward Luke Williams.
“There is nothing done [yet],” he told the club’s website.
l TURN to Page 39
“But I would like to think that we have two things that will be completed over the weekend or early next week which will be good for the club.”
Harewood, on paper, would appear to be a long shot, though he is a former Nottingham Forest colleague of Cooper.
The 34-year-old was a handful in his early career with Forest and West Ham, but the goals have dried up in his recent spells at Barnsley (two in 32 appearances) and Bristol City (none in 12).
He is currently without a club after new Robins manager Steve Cotterill released him last month.
Mansfield Town have been linked with him but he does fit the Cooper ‘identikit signing’.
Thus far, the Pools boss has targeted young prospects, like Christian Burgess, Matty Dolan and Michael Duckworth.
Williams, at the age of 20, would appear to be a more plausible target, and probably on loan .
The forward, who played at last year’s World U20 Cup, is a Boro team-mate of Burgess and Dolan and highly thought of.
He is out of contract in the summer at the Riverside though head coach Aitor Karanka’s decision to run the rule over his squad playrs in the coming days and weeks may delay any Williams departure.