BRADLEY Walker’s first goal for Hartlepool United came as no surprise to his delighted gaffer who has backed him to score many more for the club, writes Richard Mennear.
Colin Cooper brought the 17-year-old on from the subs bench in the 67th minute as he shuffled his midfield in an attempt to get back into the Sky Bet League Two match against Burton Albion.
And it worked a treat, the midfield powerhouse scoring with his first touch with a wonderstrike from the edge of the area to pull Pools level.
It was his first for the club and the teenage sensation, promoted from the youth team at the start of the season, has been backed to go on and score many more for the first team.
The Billingham-born midfielder started the season in midfield but lost his place through injury but has shown what he can do when he has come on as a substitute recently.
Trimdon-born Cooper said: “Whether he is 17 or 37 it makes no difference, he can handle the ball and run.
“He certainly has that in him and was one of the top scorers in the youth team because as a midfield player he wants to get into those areas of the pitch where he possibly may score a goal.
“We needed that in the second half.
“The way he broke forward, after we’d played it into Luke, and then the finish is excellent.
“He is more than capable of breaking into those areas and getting you six, eight to 10 goals a season, if he is playing every week.
“It has been hard for him because when he got his ankle injury we had a real surge in form and the lads who have been playing have thoroughly deserved their place.
“But I think we have to look and see what Brad gave us when he came onto the pitch and see what is the right thing to do with him.
“That is a decision that me and Craig [Hignett] will have to make.”
The imposing midfielder finished top scorer for the youth team last season and has since made 17 appearances for Pools after signing his first professional contract with the club in pre-season.
His fine form has also seen him called up to two England Under 18 training camps at the FA’s National Football Centre at St George’s Park, in Burton.
Cooper was delighted with the impact made by both subs on Saturday, Walker who came on for Simon Walton and Jonathan Franks who replaced James Poole in the second half.
Cooper, 46, said: “I thought Burton were nullifying what Poolie does for us pretty well.
“They realised the threat and where Simon [Walton] generally plays for us on the pitch, as he did very well in the first half against Coventry, is intercepting and playing forward.
“But I wanted somebody more forward thinking towards the end of the game and Bradley does that.
“The goal shows that and he is moving forward when the ball is played into Luke [James], who bounces it off and it is a one-touch lovely finish.
“As well as being very technically gifted, he has goals in him as well.
“It is great for him and he had a real impact in the game, along with Franksie.”