Brad Walker did not make the Hartlepool United match-day squad for Craig Hignett’s managerial debut – and probably won’t tonight either.
But don’t rule out a return for the teenage midfielder in the coming weeks of the new Hignett era.
I love Brad, he’s a great kid, with massive potentialCRAIG HIGNETT
Walker flourished under Hignett when he worked as assistant boss to Colin Cooper at Pools in the 2013-14 season.
The Billingham-born 16-year-old revelled in the midfield, sticking in a couple of wonder goals for good measure.
Walker was less effective last season though did contribute a goal or two in the Great Escape.
But he has barely featured this season – making just four starts under Ronnie Moore though he has made an impressive cameo sub appearance or two.
Hignett recognises the talent in the teen and is desperate to bring it out on the field.
“I hope so,” said the manager.
“I love Brad, he’s a great kid, with massive potential.
“He’s had a tough time lately but I will get him going and when he’s going, he’s more than good enough to get in the team.”
Those who watched Pools through pre-season will have identified Walker as the form man of the summer.
But an injury just ahead of the first game of the programme saw him miss out with boss Ronnie Moore using a three-man midfield formation of Carl Magnay, Nicky Featherstone and Michael Woods, a trio which shone early-season.
Walker has been monitored by Wolves this season, the Sky Bet Championship club even taking him on trial as well as picking him for their U21 side.
The 19-year-old played in the centre of the park in a Black Country reserve derby at Aston Villa, impressing against Villa wonderkid Jack Grealish.
Hignett though will be keen to keep Walker at Pools and coax his best football for inside a Pools jersey.
Walker is unlikely to make the 18 tonight against Notts County with Hignett probably sticking with the same players.
Matthew Bates could possibly be the only question mark following an injury-troubled spell, but if he’s fit he will almost certainly play.
Billy Paynter was withdrawn 10 minutes from time on Saturday with the game safe in order to give the skipper a breather following his comeback from an Achilles problem.
“I brought him off for a rest,” said Hignett. “It’s important to have Billy back and great he got another goal.”