HIS Hartlepool United career to date has been somewhat unflattering

Signed in the summer from Plymouth, Simon Walton was expected to add some steel and mobility to the Hartlepool United midfield.

Instead, after three disappointments, boss Neale Cooper restored Paul Murray back to the starting XI and last season's player of the year has again been the glue which has held the midfield together.

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Walton will be back in the starting XI today, as Cooper opts for a five-man midfield to try and combat Bournemouth, the team Pools' chief scout Paul Baker has tagged the best League One side he's watched this campaign.

He arrived with some clout. He was allowed to leave Plymouth for free, but only to be able to be closer to his Leeds roots.

Last season he was top scorer, captain and player of the year for the Pilgrims and now he is out to win over his new manager.

"The reserve game this week, Simon and Ritchie (Humphreys) did well. Simon looks sharper and fitter, which he has to be. Both did ok in the game.

"It was a chance for one or two boys to make a statement - they knew I was going to watch.

"Simon has done well lately. He has worked hard since I brought Paul Murray back in, Simon is in the squad to be used and he has worked hard the last couple of weeks.

"I want a reaction from players, I want people to show me.''

Walton is likely to replace last week's scorer James Poole, with Steve Howard left alone up front.

The striker struck the crossbar in last week's loss to Carlisle, as Pools couldn't find a second goal to finish off the Cumbrians.

There was plenty of angst and frustration, but Cooper admitted: "I wasn't going in ranting and raving at the boys at all, we need to learn to kill a game off. At 1-0 they get a sniff and are in it.

"We hit the bar, Monks had a volley saved, Sweens had a header he would normally score from.

"One or two other little chances as well. We created chances and that was a huge positive. We had games when we didn't create too many chances, but it was positive we did last week and the build up play was good as well.

"That's the positive side of it - the negative is that we didn't take them and it came back to bite us.

"Steve looked a lot sharper and fitter and we look after him. He linked up really well last week and was unlucky not to score. It will come.''

Cooper will leave Sunderland loanee Craig Lynch on the bench after an impressive introduction last week and admitted: "We think about formation and the opposition, they have impressed our chief scout and they are out to add more players this week. They have 30 players and are after more.

"Reports are that they are a very good side and are spending ridiculous money. Any of those 30 could play week in, week out.

"We will look at how we can play and work on it. We can't be kamikaze away from home.''

He added: "We are seeking consistency and need to keep the squad fit - there's been niggles with players and we are missing Aussie this week.

"But we do need to be more solid defensively.''

"The lads were in Monday and we spoke about it and it was frustrating. It was the best we played in a long time and then it all went wrong.

"They got some momentum with the sending-off and turned it around. We had four really good chances for a second - don't take them and it kills the game.

"We go down to ten men, their second goal is deflected in. It's hard to take. It wasn't a day to criticise, we cannot feel sorry for ourselves and bounce back.

"My three children were down last weekend and really enjoyed it - apart from the last 15 minutes!''