Fit and refreshed Brad Walker back and in form for Hartlepool United

BACK IN BUSINESS: Brad Walker. Picture by FRANK REID
BACK IN BUSINESS: Brad Walker. Picture by FRANK REID

SURELY there is no sight a fan loves to see more – a local lad and club product starring for the first team.

That was certainly the case last season when Colin Cooper plucked Brad Walker from the youths and put him into his Sky Bet League Two side.

To say it was an inspired move would be an understatement.

The 17-year-old was a breath of fresh air and had an outstanding season in the midfield, scoring a couple of sensational goals along the way.

In fact, Walker was named young player of the year and won the goal of the season for his volley at Southend.

Fast forward to this season and life has not been as beautiful for the now 18-year-old.

The team have struggled with a capital S and Walker has, by his own admission, not hit the heights that he’d have liked to.

In fact, Sam Collins gave the Billingham-born star a breather, putting him on the bench for his three games in caretaker charge.

Not unlike Cooper’s decision to pick the teen sensation, big Sam’s call to leave him out looks just as impressive.

New boss Paul Murray restored Walker to the starting XI at Cambridge last Saturday nad how the player responded.

He admitted the first half rather passed him by, but the in the second period, it was the old Brad Walker, if that is not a contradiction.

Walker scored one beauty, stung the keeper’s hands with a screamer from outside the box, had a header nodded off the line and then goalie Chris Dunn saved from him in injury time.

“The break I had helped a lot I think,” he told SportMail.

“I hadn’t started the season as well as I should have.

“I came back into the side last Saturday and felt refreshed and I think I did well. Obviously it is a bit disappointing [not to be in the team] because as a player you always want to play.

“But I kept myself right, trained and prepared well and I was happy when the gaffer put me back in.

“Hopefully I’ve done enough to keep my place.

“In the first half I’m not sure I got a touch - the ball seemed to be in the air all the time.

“But in the second half we grew into the game and played some very good football.

“Luckily I scored and maybe I should have scored another.”

A back-to-form Brad is just what the doctor ordered for Pools and for Murray.

The 59th-minute pearler doubled Brad’s tally for the campaign and he is already just one behind last season’s tally.

And he is looking to up his tally.

“I have two up to now and I think there is more to come as soon as we can get into a winning streak,” he said.

“I’m hoping to contribute to that with goals and get us up the table.”

Tomorrow’s home date with Newport County is a real test.

The Welsh side are up in the play-offs and are hard to beat but Walker saw enough “positives” in the second 45 minutes at the Abbey Stadium.

“Every game is hard in this league!” said Walker.

“But if we can play like we did in the first half we will be fine.

“You have to win your own battle first and I think we started to do that at the end of the first half.

“And when the ball was on the floor in the second half we played some brilliant football.

“Hopefully, we can build on that.”