Hartlepool United’s Brad Walker to start against Bristol Rovers in place of banned Michael Woods

Brad Walker celebrates his goal at Yeovil Town. Picture by Pinnacle Photo Agency
Brad Walker celebrates his goal at Yeovil Town. Picture by Pinnacle Photo Agency

Goal hero Brad Walker has the chance to cement a place in the Hartlepool United side.

The teenager will play tomorrow night’s League Two clash with Bristol Rovers at Victoria Park, where Pools can make a move towards a return to the top seven.

Featherstone and Woods have done well in there, it’s hard to leave them out

RONNIE MOORE

Walker scored an 83rd-minute winner for Pools at Yeovil Town on Saturday – barely three minutes after coming on for Michael Woods.

And the 19-year-old will start in his place after Woods collected his fifth booking of the season at Huish Park to ‘earn’ a one-match ban.

Walker had been on the pitch only three minutes when he produced a cool finish after getting on the end of fellow sub Kudus Oyenuga’s shot.

After playing superbly in pre-season, the Billingham-born star was injured on the eve of the League Two programme and, after regaining his fitness, has been restricted to bench duty.

But Moore says the stage is now there for Walker to perform on.

“It is up to Brad to play well and stop Woodsy from getting back,” said the Pools boss.

“If he plays well, he stays in.

“Brad’s got quality, there is no doubt about it, he’s just been lacking match-time.

“We’ve had a chat, he knows what we’re looking for.

“On Saturday, I said to him before he went on ‘go and make a name for yourself’ and it was nice to see him on the scoresheet.

“Woodsy is hardly an aggressive midfielder is he? But that [booking] has given Brad a chance now.”

Moore did not say it in as many words but, in effect, the midfield has almost picked itself.

First Carl Magnay and now Matthew Bates have excelled in the holding role in a combination with Woods and Nicky Featherstone.

It is a formula which has served Pools superbly in the opening weeks of the season

“Featherstone and Woods have done well in there, it’s hard to leave them out,” admitted Moore.

“If you are playing three in midfield, you are looking for a holding midfielder and I don’t see Brad as that.

“So he’s in competition with the other two, but Woodsy getting suspended has opened the door for him.”

For the second week running, Walker has given Pools an attacking spark late on.

The previous Saturday against Cambridge, he as unable to fashion a goal, but he got the finish for his first strike of the season.

“It’s great build-up for the goal, Nicky has picked out Kudus, who has tried to sidefoot it in the opposite corner,” said Moore.

“He has not hit it particularly well, but Brad’s got it and put it into the back of the net, which was brilliant for us.”