Brad Walker is back at the heart of Hartlepool United – and it’s all down to a little bit of TLC.
Walker returned to the Pools side in Saturday’s late defeat at Luton.
Brad knows what I think of him and I just felt in training that he was starting to be his old self againCRAIG HIGNETT
After an uncertain start at Kenilworth Road, the teenage midfielder impressed and looks set to retain his place for the big showdown with runaway leaders Northampton Town this weekend.
Walker had found himself out in the cold under previous boss Ronnie Moore, with Wolves showing strong interest in him.
He was not even on the bench for the final two matches of Moore’s reign, nor the first two of the Hignett era.
But that situation altered on Saturday as Walker came into the midfield, playing alongside Lewis Hawkins and Nicky Featherstone.
From his first day as Pools boss, Hignett has made no secret of his admiration for Walker and his hope that he can extract the best out of him.
And Saturday was a start in the 2-1 defeat to the Hatters.
“With Brad, it’s called love I think,” smiled Hignett. “Brad knows what I think of him and I just felt in training that he was starting to be his old self again.
“He’s been really good in training in the last few days of last week.
“With the couple of injuries he had, it gave me the chance to play him and see what he was all about in there and he didn’t let me down.”
Walker flourished in the Pools side coached by Hignett when Colin Cooper plucked the then 16-year-old from the youth team and into the League Two squad in the summer of 2013.
The now 19-year-old has lost his way over the last year or so, but the new Pools boss sees hope for the future.
“I thought Brad was terrific,” said the 46-year-old. “He grew into the game.
“He had a slow start, was a bit unsure about what he was doing, but once he realised his role and knew what he was doing he was like the Brad of two years ago.”
It was only the fifth start of the campaign and his first since the heavy home defeat to Bristol Rovers at the end of September.
Walker has shone several times off the bench and grabbed what, ultimately, could prove a vital late winner earlier this season, at Yeovil.
He has spent two spells at Wolves with the Sky Bet Championship club interested in the tall midfielder.
At one stage it looked as though he had a bigger future at Molineux than the Vic, but Hignett’s arrival and statement of intent would now suggest otherwise.
Hignett though said he was loathe to pick out individual players after a very good team effort against Luton.
“I don’t really want to single players out as a whole, because as a team the effort and shape and the discipline, I can’t be anything but delighted with how they played,” he said.