Heart's Walker: Making the step-up

Melbourne Heart’s Jeremy Walker is the first player from the Tasmanian NTC program to play at the highest level in Australia. He shares some tips after last season’s breakthrough A-League campaign

Tips for playing alongside older player

"Obviously they’re a lot more physical and they have more experience and see the game a bit better. I guess I thrived on seeing them doing things better and faster and thinking quicker than me so I tried to set myself for that level.

More after the break

"My tip is set yourself high standards and you’ve got to strive for that and playing with older players is going to give that for you. Not being nervous as well is another tip. They’re in the same club as you and you’re there for a reason so knuckle down and have a crack because ultimately they are no different to you in the long run."

Attacking from deep

"My main job is to defend because you’re still part of the back four even if you’re an attack minded defender. But maybe if your left back is tucked in and they’ve got a back three and you’ve still got a  numerical advantage at the back, and maybe there’s a bit of leeway if a six or an eight get on the ball and you can get on the outside of your winger. 

"It’s all about timing, if you go too early or you go with a one-on-one opportunity. I’ve learnt to read the game as much as I can and also not going too early because if you get caught out and you’re ending up sprinting back from being caught out of position. You want to help out in attack but if it breaks down you’re still in a reasonable position to cover everyone else."

The mental battle

"It’s the thing I enjoy the most and I think about before every game. I love the one on one battle with my winger. It’s a mental thing and sometimes I go quite early in a game. Even if it’s not too worried about tracking back he’s getting more fatigued when he’s attacking me the other way. I’m happy with my fitness level so I’m comfortable going forward a lot and knowing he’s going to get that little bit more tired every time I go. Maybe he’ll not be as mentally switched on when he’s running with the ball as a result."

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