Former Newcastle United defender handed fresh start at Hebburn Town following injury nightmare
Former Newcastle United youngster Ollie Walters has received glowing praise from Hebburn Town manager Kevin Bolam as he settles into life with the Northern Premier League East Division club.
The full-back joined the Hornets last month and made his debut as a substitute in a 2-1 defeat at Pontefract Collieries less than 24 hours later.
An ankle injury disrupted his attempts to establish himself in Bolam’s side – but Walters was handed his first start for the club in last weekend’s impressive 2-0 win at Cleethorpes Town.
That proved to be Walters’ first start since he suffered a serious injury in Newcastle under-23s’ 2-0 win against Sunderland in February 2020.
Bolam hailed the 21-year-old defender’s attitude and believes he will become a key asset this season.
“First and foremost, Ollie is a humble, quiet lad,” he told The Gazette. “He’s starting to come out of his shell and the group realise he’s an excellent player.
“He was a fantastic outlet for us at left-back at Cleethorpes and you could see how happy he was with the performance and result afterwards.
“Ollie clearly loved Saturday,’s game, even in amongst the muck and bullets because it was an awful day down there.
“I am over the moon he got through the game, he took the knocks and just got on with it. Hopefully, these next few weeks, he gets a run of games without a reaction. We will look after him because we are really pleased to have him.”
Walters was one of a number of academy players released by Newcastle at the end of last season after featuring for the Magpies youth sides for the last 13 years.
Bolam revealed his surprise at being able to add the left-back to his squad but expressed his determination to get the most out of Walters and fellow former Magpies academy start Liam Smith.
“I have to be honest, I am surprised that we have him because he had a good reputation at Newcastle,” he added. “But similar to Liam Smith, these academy lads that have horrendous injury problems just need a little support and a bit of belief instilled into them.
“If you get the mental side right with them, you have a real player and that is what we hope to do with both lads.”