A DOG walker who was found collapsed in the street was violently attacked in the early hours of Friday morning, police say.
The victim, 49-year-old Brendan McKelvey, of Hunger Hill - was walking his black Patterdale Terrier along Chorley Old Road when he was attacked.
He was found unconscious by motorists just before 2am, who found him lying across the pavement and into the road, with his dog beside him.
It is not known how long he had been there.
Mr McKelvey was rushed to Salford Royal Hospital, where he underwent surgery and is now in a coma.
His family have been notified and are caring for the dog.
Police say Mr McKelvey — who stands taller than six foot and has distinctive colour tattoos on both arms — would go for late night walks to help alleviate the symptoms of deep vein thrombosis.
Detectives are now trying to piece together his route before he was attacked, and have released a picture of his pet to jog people’s memories.
Det Supt Jon Chadwick told The Bolton News it was unclear how many people had attacked Mr McKelvey.
He said: “He was quite a distance from his home when the assault happened, and we don’t know where he was going.
“There are no obvious signs of a weapon being used.
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“His injuries are consistent with him being punched in the face two to three times, with the main injuries on the back of his head.
“We are looking for any information as to where Mr McKelvey was from about 6pm on Thursday evening,”
Mr McKelvey, who has short fair hair, was wearing a dark t-shirt, dark trousers and blue trainers when he was attacked.
Anyone with information about the incident of Mr McKelvey's route before he was attackes can call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.
Brendan McKelvey's dog, a black Patterdale Terrier