HARTLEPOOL United starlet Brad Walker is adamant that his game will improve playing alongside experienced midfield partner Tommy Miller, writes RICHARD MENNEAR.
The 18-year-old has committed his future to Pools by signing a new and improved two-year contract and is enjoying his role in central midfield alongside Miller.
The former Ipswich, Sunderland, Sheffield Wednesday and Swindon midfielder returned to Victoria Park in the summer, 13 years after he was sold to Ipswich in 2001 for £750,000.
Billingham-born Walker has praised 35-year-old Miller, saying: “I enjoy playing with Tommy – he’s still got bags of energy and wants to get forward and he’s been good.
“He communicates with me and helps me on and off the pitch.
“It’s important to learn from players like that.
“I looked up to Simon (Walton) last year because of his experience and it is the same with Tommy.
“They are different players, but I can learn from them both.”
The teenager burst onto the scene 12 months ago after impressing boss Colin Cooper and then assistant manager Craig Hignett on Pools’ pre-season tour to Holland.
He signed his first professional deal and became an integral part of the side last season.
Walker’s spectacular strike away at Southend last season won him the Pools goal of the season trophy and it was a solid piece of business by the club to tie him down to a new deal.
Walker, a central midfield powerhouse, didn’t enjoy the best of games at Cheltenham in Saturday’s 1-0 League Two defeat, losing possession too easily in the opening 20 minutes.
But he knows he needs to keep up the high standards he set himself last season.
“Since last summer the manager has put me in the side and, apart from injuries, I’ve played in the majority of the games,” added Walker.
“I just want to keep my place and keep learning and making an impression.
“I’ve come into the team and now it’s about keeping the standards up.
“Last year, when we had Simon Walton and Matty Dolan here, I couldn’t get back in the team after I was injured.
“But then I cemented my place in the team and stayed in there.
“This season, there’s a lot of competition, with Michael Woods and Lewis Hawkins coming through, so it’s important to keep leaning and working hard in training and in games.”
H Middlesbrough winger Ryan Brobbel, on loan at Pools, is set for a busy weekend after being called up to the Northern Ireland Under-21 squad.
He will play his last game of his month-long loan when Pools take on Shrewsbury at Victoria Park in Saturday’s League Two clash.
The 21-year-old will then have to catch a flight to Belfast to meet up his international team-mates ahead of their European Under-21 Championship qualifier against Serbia in Portadown on Tuesday.
Boss Colin Cooper, already thin on numbers in the squad, hopes to extend Brobbel’s loan.