Simon Walton up for Hartlepool United mission

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SIMON Walton admits that a return to the Championship remains his career goal – and he would love nothing more than to achieve that at Victoria Park.

The 24-year-old heads a strong contingent of senior players who travel to Whitby Town for tonight’s pre-season friendly (kick off 7.30pm).

Walton is joined by Steve Howard, Colin Nish, Sam Collins, James Poole and Paul Murray for the trip to the Turnbull Ground.

The midfielder will be making his second appearance for his new club against the Seasiders having impressed during his debut in Holland last week.

Walton – a summer addition from League Two Plymouth Argyle – was just a teenager when he made his name with hometown club Leeds United in the second tier, prompting a £1m switch to Premier League Charlton Athletic.

And the Pools new boy told SportMail he sees no reason why his career path cannot be headed for higher plains.

“A relegation battle in League Two did not really suit my game,” said Walton, reflecting on the latter days of his time on the South Coast.

“This now, at Hartlepool, is a chance to revive my career.

“I’m on the ladder back up now and I’m where I want to be.

“But I still think I can play in the Championship.

“I’ve talked the talk, however, now I’ve got to walk the walk and make sure I do it out on there on the pitch.”

And, when asked if a return to the Championship could be realised with Pools, Walton came back: “Absolutely – why not?

“I’m not the sort of character to settle for mediocrity and from what I’ve seen of Neale (Cooper) neither is he.

“I said when I signed that one of the main reasons I did so was because of his enthusiasm and ambition.”

SEE Wednesday’s Mail for full story