Simon Walton to be key figure alongside Hartlepool United prospect Brad Walker

MAN IN THE MIDDLE: Simon Walton in action against York City. Picture by FRANK REID
MAN IN THE MIDDLE: Simon Walton in action against York City. Picture by FRANK REID

COLIN Cooper believes that Simon Walton can provide the perfect foil to aid the development of teen sensation Brad Walker.

Walton himself was once a highly-rated youngster and, at just 18, Charlton Athletic paid Leeds United £1m for his services.

The 25-year-old has dropped down the divisions since those days of promise and began this season on the bench at Pools.

But two impressive displays at the heart of the midfield alongside Walker have won praise from Cooper.

And the Pools chief is confident that Walton – as well as new signing Matty Dolan - can help his 17-year-old team-mate.

“Bradley was very good again last weekend against York, but I have to say I constantly saw Simon Walton helping him in there too,” said Cooper, whose side take on Fleetwood Town at Victoria Park this afternoon.

“I also saw him really encouraging Brad and that’s good.

“Simon has come in for a bit of flak at this football club over a period of time, but he did well at the weekend.

“He looks like he’s enjoying himself.

“He came on two weeks ago and put in a great performance and did well again on Saturday.

“We’ve had lots of conversations with Simon over the summer about where he sees himself.

“For me, Simon has to enjoy what he’s doing and he seems as if he is right now.

“Long may that continue.”

Cooper was particularly pleased with Walton and Walker’s willingness to get in the face of the opposition at Bootham Crescent.

And the manager will be asking for more of the same over the coming weeks.

“We’ve been working on trying to get closer to the opposition and Simon did that very well,” he went on.

“What Brad did was put in a really disciplined display for the first hour.

“After that he decided that he had a little bit of energy left to burn and went on a few counter-attacks.

“When you see that boy move he really can.

“He’s an exciting prospect, for sure.

“But we were all 17 once and it’s our job to look at him and think ‘is he peaking or is he having a dip?’.

“We’re giving him pats on the back and rightly so but there will come a time when he hits a brick wall.

“But so far he has been outstanding.”