COLIN Cooper has urged teenage star Brad Walker to make the most of his time with the England Under-18 squad – and to show the national coaches just how good a player he is.
The 17-year-old midfielder last night joined up with the cream of the crop of young English talent at the FA’s National Football Centre at St George’s Park, in Burton, for a two-day training camp.
Walker burst onto the first-team scene at Pools in the summer and was rewarded with his first professional contract before the season had even kicked off.
His manager, himself capped twice by England and eight times at Under-21 level, said the call-up is great news for his teenage prodigy and the League Two club.
Cooper has urged Walker to make the most of the opportunity before he returns to Maiden Castle later this week to prepare for Northampton Town at The Vic on Saturday.
“It is brilliant for Brad,” said Cooper.
“When we found out the news last Wednesday it was a fantastic shot in the arm for our football club.
“He is a great kid and has been nothing short of sensational since we stepped him up to the first team squad in the summer.
“He reported to St George’s Park on Sunday evening, will spend Monday and Tuesday with the Under-18 development squad and we get him back on Wednesday or
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“He will be part of the group preparing for Northampton.”
Walker impressed Pools’ management duo of Cooper and Craig Hignett during the club’s pre-season trip to Holland and made his senior debut when he was selected to start in the opening League Two game at Rochdale.
His gaffer said last week that Walker has the “technical, tactical, physical and mental capabilities” to adapt to playing at the top level but Cooper said it is important he enjoys his time at the training camp.
The 46-year-old said: “I really hope Brad has an enjoyable time.
“I have spoken with the coaches and they have said there is one or two from MK Dons in the group as well.
“It is a massive shot in the arm for Brad and his family, a massive shot in the arm for Hartlepool United and a massive boost that League Two is producing players that are good enough to go and train with England.
“Whether he eventually ever plays in the team, and hopefully he will, I think the next few days will be very exciting.
“I remember going away with the Under-21s when I was a young boy at Middlesbrough and feeling completely out of my depth with some of the players that were there.
“But I didn’t half enjoy myself and that is all I want Brad to do, to enjoy himself, relax, mix with the people that are there and express himself and show people what a really good player he is.
“And he is a really good player.”
The imposing midfielder finished top scorer for the youth team last season and has so far made 12 first team appearances this campaign.