BRAD Walker will sign professional forms with Hartlepool United on Monday and looks set to start at Rochdale a week today.
The 17-year-old has played his way to the forefront of Colin Cooper’s thinking during the course of pre-season and will now be rewarded with his first pro contract.
And the Pools boss told SportMail: “I have spoken to Brad and his father and we’ve told them that he will be signing professional forms.
“That’s a massive boost for him and his dad was very proud.
“It’s the right thing to do.
“Myself and Craig (Hignett) said last week that we had to get it done.
“You have to recognise talent and this is a deserved pat on the back for him.
“He is a humble, honest, young man and I like him a lot.
“He came in on the first day of pre-season and has done nothing but impress us.
“But he has only just turned 17 so that is our job to manage his development.
“He could have a big, big future ahead of him if he takes everything on board and gives himself the best possible chance.”
Walker replaced Simon Walton in the centre of midfield for last night’s final pre-season friendly at home to Preston North End.
While Pools were beaten 1-0, the teenager was again one of the more positive notes to emerge for Cooper.
And that could well see him kick off the campaign at Spotland.
“He now has a real chance of starting the season,” said Cooper.
“He is in the mix without a shadow of a doubt.
“He’s been one of the best midfield players over the course of pre-season so why wouldn’t he be?
“Age is just a number.”
Pools signed off from their summer schedule with defeat against the Lilywhites last night, Joe Garner’s first-half penalty separating the sides.
Jack Compton missed from the spot for Pools five minutes after the break, and Cooper reflected: “I was disappointed with the first half if I’m honest.
“We changed formation to 3-5-2 and maybe they didn’t quite grasp it.
“But in the second half it was better.
“We created quite a bit and it might have been different had Jack’s penalty gone in.
“So we move on now, give them a couple of days off, and look forward to Rochdale with a good week on the training pitch next week.”