Wolves, Wigan interest in Hartlepool United star

Brad Walker.
Brad Walker.

Brad Walker could be set for a dream move to the Sky Bet Championship.

The midfielder-turned-star-defender is believed to have turned down a new contract offer from Hartlepool United,

Walker’s career would change in a dramatic three-week period at the Vic.

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And SportMail understands Wolves are interested in taking him to the Championship.

The 21-year-old came close to a move to the Black Country two seasons ago when he impressed on trial at Molineux.

League One outfit Wigan are also understood to be monitoring the situation.

Walker spent time training with Wolves in December 2015 and the following month he played for their reserve team.

The Billingham-born player performed well in their U21 derby with Aston Villa, shining against the much-vaunted Jack Grealish.

The time looked ripe for a Walker move, given he was out of favour at Pools under Ronnie Moore.

However, no deal was ever brokered and he remained at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium.

When he and Moore’s successor, Craig Hignett, fell out in pre-season last summer, Walker’s time at the Vic looked like dragging out painfully for the last year of his contract.

He was not used in the friendly programme and even found himself training with the club’s development squad under Sam Collins.

Walker was a proverbial mile down the pecking order behind Nicky Featherstone, Michael Woods, Josh Laurent, Lewis Hawkins and Nicky Deverdics.

However, Walker’s career would change in a dramatic three-week period at the Vic.

Having made a return to the match-day 18 under Hignett, he found himself back in the team after the Scouser was sacked in January.

Collins picked him in his starting XI for his match in charge against Stevenage, Walker responding by scoring in the 2-0 revenge win over the Borough.

Soon after would come a real game-changer for the player, who made his League Two debut aged just 17.

When Matthew Bates limped off with a hamstring injury in the opening stages at Luton with Pools 2-0 down, Walker was switched to centre-half by boss Dave Jones.

And the 6ft 2in player has not looked back. Having coped so well that evening with one of League Two’s top striker’s, Danny Hylton, Walker retained his place alongside Scott Harrison at the heart of the defence.

He was brilliant in the role, using his pace and positional sense superbly defensively and he was coolness personified when bringing the ball out of defence.

If you watch the Pools fightback against Doncaster on that last dramatic Saturday of the season, him bringing the ball up to the Rovers box led to Devante Rodney’s equaliser.

While Kenny Jackett, the boss at Molineux when Wolves first wanted Walker, has long since departed, there are those at the club still interested in the versatile player.

Even though Walker will be free to leave, it won’t be for free as Pools would be entitled to compensation.

Given the player’s relative youth and the fact he has made over a century of Football League appearances, a club should not get him on the cheap.

New Pools boss Craig Harrison does not want to lose any more of the leading Pools players and will look to persuade the other out-of-contract men, Carl Magnay and Rhys Oates, to stay.

But he is also unlikely to stand in Walker’s way should he have the chance of a Championship or League One switch.

Wigan bought Laurent at the end of the January transfer window though they now have a different boss in Paul Cook following his arrival from Portsmouth.