Non League Daily

Gateshead Move For Walker

Anth Smith, manager of Conference Premier club Gateshead, has pulled off another major summer signing with the acquisition of former Middlesbrough, Watford and Scunthorpe United midfielder Josh Walker.

The 24-year-old (pictured) is returning to his Tyneside roots after playing 24 games for Scunthorpe in League One last season as well as appearing in the FA Cup and League Cup.

The midfield playmaker initially spent five years at Middlesbrough where he made a number of appearances in the Premier League, making his senior debut at just 17.

His games for Boro included the 2008/09 Tees-Wear derby against Sunderland and he also started Premier League games against Fulham and Blackburn Rovers, while coming off the bench in a number of other games.

After a loan spell at Bournemouth, Walker went on loan to SPL side Aberdeen, for whom he scored in a 2-2 UEFA Cup draw against Bayern Munich in 2008.

While at the Riverside the Tynesider gained further Football League experience at Northampton Town and Yorkshire outfit Rotherham United.

After making a total of 13 appearances for Middlesbrough, including five starts, Walker moved south to join Championship club Watford in 2010 on a two-year deal.

He was limited to five substitute games for the Hornets in the Championship, his only start coming in the League Cup at Bristol Rovers.

Walker played 19 games on loan at Northampton in the second half of the 2010/11 season along with a spell at Football League new boys Stevenage.

After a successful loan at Scunthorpe in the second half of the 2011/12 campaign the schemer joined The Iron on a permanent deal.

During his time at Glanford Park he played 44 games, though his first full season was hampered by ankle and knee injuries which kept him sidelined for several months.

After a summer move to League One outfit Crewe Alexandra broke down, Walker decided to return to Tyneside to sign for Gateshead.

The talented playmaker has captained England at Under-16 and Under-17 level and also captained England in the 2009 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Egypt.

Gateshead boss Anth Smith has tracked Walker for several weeks and is delighted that his patience has been rewarded.

"It is a fantastic signing for the club," said Smith. "Walker has played at the top level of the English game and has captained his country at three different levels.

"He has a great range of passing, both short and long, is physically strong and will supply the bullets for the front men.

"He recognises the potential at Gateshead and wants to be a part of it and I'm delighted that we have been able to sign such a talented footballer.

"Over the past few years he has gained a lot of experience in the Football League and last season was playing in League One.

"He's got bags of quality. I'm well aware of what he is capable of and at 24 he is just the right age and just what we were looking for."

Walker is the latest in a string of high profile signings during the summer and the former Boro man is looking forward to getting his Gateshead career up and running.

"I'm delighted to be back home," said Walker. "It's been a hard couple of years since I left Middlesbrough and last season was ravaged by injuries.

"It was hard to get going. I had options to stay in League One and other offers and it looked a foregone conclusion that I was going to Crewe.

"I had come to see Anth earlier in the summer for a chat about joining Gateshead and to have a look around the facilities.

"I was impressed with what he had to say and with the facilities, which are excellent, and match the Championship.

"When the Crewe move fell through at the last minute I looked at the other options available but the opportunity to come home was too good to turn down.

"It's a blessing that I've had the chance to come to Gateshead and hopefully I'll have a good season and one that we get promoted.

"It's a club that I feel is on the up and I want to be a part of that. I'm fully fit now after breaking my ankle and needing a knee operation at Scunthorpe.

"It was a horrendous season in general as the club were relegated but I'm looking forward to moving on and doing well at Gateshead.

"There is good competition all over the field and there are some good players in midfield so we'll all be fighting for our position.

"When you've got someone breathing down your neck it makes you play better and I'm looking forward to the challenge."

The signing of Walker has seen midfield trialists Lee Bullock and Robbie Briggs released.

"Bullock has done smashing. He's a great pro but I spoke to him after the Workington game and with Walker signing I cannot take him on," said manager Smith.

"Briggs is a young player at the start of his career and he has not looked out of place in the three pre-season games.

"He will continue his development elsewhere but he is a player we will keep an eye on and monitor his progress."

Smith hopes to add a couple more players to his squad this week to complete a good summer's work in the transfer market.

> Jeff Bowron /


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