Having been awarded his first professional deal with the club earlier this week, academy graduate Tom Walker is already ready and raring to go for Wanderers.
After joining the Whites’ academy set-up as a nine-year-old, Walker broke into the first team set-up towards the latter end of the 2014/15 campaign, going on to make eleven appearances for Neil Lennon’s side, scoring one goal.
And having now agreed professional terms with the club, the 19-year-old confessed his delight at making the final transition in his development as a player.
“I’m really happy to finally get that first deal under my belt,” he said. “I’d like to thank Neil Lennon for giving me this opportunity – he’s put a lot of faith in me over the last couple of months and I hope that I can repay him out on the pitch.
“I’ve been here since I was nine and I’ve come up through the academy with Rob Holding who has also been given a contract, so that’s a great achievement for both of us and the club too.”
He continued: “Having seen that the manager was giving youth a chance earlier in the season, I was always hopeful that I’d get my opportunity.
“Watching players like Josh Vela and Zach Clough breaking into the side, I just wanted to be out there with them so I worked hard to get there.
“I just wanted to be in their shoes, so that pushed me on in the hope that I’d get my chance and luckily it happened for me.”
Walker also paid tribute to the club’s supporters, with the youngster thanking the fans for their support since his breakthrough.
“The fans have been great since I’ve been involved,” he admitted. “Even when I leave the stadium after games, they’ve been there giving me nice messages and telling me that they appreciate my efforts which is always nice.
“Especially following my goal against Wigan, it all went a bit mad – in all honesty, that was probably the best feeling I’ve ever had in football so far.
“It did all go a bit too quickly though – I don’t really remember too much apart from the ball hitting the back of the net and me running off to celebrate.
“It wasn’t the best of strikes, but I’ll take it. A goal is a goal at the end of the day and it was great to be able to celebrate it with all the fans behind the net who were fantastic.
“To score my first goal was special, but to do it in a local derby where it means so much to the supporters was even better.
“After the past couple of months though, I won’t be relaxing too much this summer – I’m determined to look after myself and come back fit and raring to go.
“I want to be involved again next season, so fingers crossed I can push on from where I left off and start as I mean to go on come August.”