Boss Murray pledges to improve star Walker

Brad Walker
Brad Walker
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DETERMINED Paul Murray is adamant he can improve every Hartlepool United player – especially Brad Walker.

The Pools boss has only been in charge for two matches after being named as Colin Cooper’s successor, but he has wasted no time in stamping his authority.

Bottom of Sky Bet League Two with just 12 points from their opening 16 matches, Murray has already brought in two new signings, midfielders Nicky Featherstone and Sidney Schmeltz.

As well as looking to further strengthen his struggling squad, the Cumbrian is also keen to improve those players currently at the club.

He has earmarked 18-year-old Walker – who had a spell out of the side under caretaker boss Sam Collins – for particular attention.

Murray said: “For every individual at the club, I will work with them and get them better – everyone can get better.

“Bradley, in particular, if he raises his game he can get so much better.

“I have had chance to do individual work this week, before it had been about our pattern and how we are going to play.”

Walker burst through into the first team picture at Pools at the start of last season after impressing then-manager Cooper on the pre-season tour to Holland.

Since then he has been almost an ever present in the starting line-up, with 58 career appearances now under his belt.

His impressive form in his debut season led to him being called up to England Under-18 training camps and being crowned young player of the year and winning the goal of the season for his volley at Southend.

But he had been struggling to recreate those heights this season, which led to Collins dropping him to the bench while he was caretaker.

Walker has bounced back well though, scoring twice in successive matches against Cambridge United and then in the 2-2 draw with Newport County at Victoria Park on Saturday.

Murray was impressed with his strike and is keen to see him improve further.

“Brad scored a great goal and had one opportunity which the keeper saved too,” said Murray.

“He needs a lot of work, with his frame he needs to be stronger as well.

“He’s that big no-one should knock him off the ball when he receives it and I’m looking forward to developing him.

“Bradley was good in spirits (against Newport), but there’s a lot to work on with him.”

As well as the Billingham-born midfielder, Murray has also earmarked forwards Jonathan Franks and on-loan Middlesbrough striker Charlie Wyke for improvement.

Murray added: “Franksy got better against Newport.

“There’s always a question over his end product but he was a threat.

“I played with him and know what he can do and he got into a position we wanted him to be in.

“I spoke to their manager afterwards and he knew what a danger he was.

“There is loads to work on though.

“Charlie has to be a bit stronger physically and he can work the centre-halves more.

“I think he’s still been struggling from the bug he had the other week, he’s been ill and I played him last week for 90 minutes (against Cambridge) and he’s not really recovered.”