Ronnie Moore believes a rejuvenated Brad Walker can be a real threat for Hartlepool United this season - now that he is fit again.
It was a pleasure to watch Walker in action in the 4-0 win over Spennymoor Town, with the 20-year-old showcasing his vision and range of passing against the non-league outfit.
He has great vision, some of the 60-yard diagonal balls, that is what we have been working on because if you have the wing-backs you have to use them.Ronnie Moore
Time and time again he would ping the ball 60-yards to the onrushing wing-backs and his performances and improved fitness levels have caught his manager’s eye.
While Moore insists Billingham-born Walker still has a lot to learn, he believes he could be a “hell of a player” for League Two Pools this campaign.
Not that he is guaranteed a starting spot though.
“Without doubt, Brad is fitter and stronger this year,” Moore told SportMail.
“He is getting about the park a lot more, he is quicker and sharper.
“But he still has a lot to think about with his game, and getting in the right positions.
“When he does that, he looks a good player.
“He has great vision, some of the 60-yard diagonal balls, that is what we have been working on because if you have the wing-backs then you have to use them.
“Brad has the quality in that midfield area to pick them out and he did three or four times against Spennymoor plus the free-kick, which the keeper made a good safe from.
“He has progressed in the right manner when you consider how unfit he was last season.”
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.
By Walker’s own admission, he struggled to make a similar impact last term, not featuring as much under Moore, with his manager pinpointing a poor pre-season as the reason why.
His manager knows the second season as a pro - much like that difficult second album - is the hardest and he believes Walker didn’t help himself.
But Walker means business going into his third and he has impressed in pre-season, including scoring twice against Billingham Town.
“Second year is always the hardest and it is how you deal with it,” added Moore.
“I don’t think he dealt with it all that well really, it didn’t help him or us.
“This year he has knuckled down and done everything we have asked of him.
“I am pleased with him, his attitude is good and we need him to get back to what he was a year ago.
“If he does then we have a hell of a player.
“I didn’t use him a lot last year and he knows the reasons why, you can’t be in the shape he was in mentally and physically.
“But this year he is brighter and fitter.
“This season he is going to be a threat but I’m not saying he is definitely going to start.”
* A young Pools side will travel to Ashington tonight (KO 7.30pm), with Moore set to name a strong starting line-up for Tuesday night’s visit of League One Scunthorpe United - the first home game of pre-season.