A GANG of thugs repeatedly battered a 14-year-old boy with metal bars and table legs.

The teenager was walking home with two friends along Higher Swan Lane, Great Lever, when he was targeted by a group of around 10 youths.

His friends, also aged 14, managed to run away but the gang grabbed him before he could escape.

He struggled with two of his attackers before falling to the floor and curling up in a ball as the group pounded him with their weapons.

Other members of the gang, who were not armed, kicked and punched him about the head and body, as he shouted for help.

The boy, from Morris Green, has been left with a broken shoulder and gashes to his head, following the attack, which happened at around 8.30pm on Sunday.

The gang fled when the alarm was raised by local residents.

Police have now released CCTV images of the thugs in a bid to track them down.

The mother of the boy, who asked not to be named, said: "It's terrible. They just pounced on him, hitting him with metal bars and table legs. I am frightened to death of him going out at all now. They didn't rob him. They seemed to have had their weapons ready, just looking for trouble.

"He is bearing up now. It could have been worse; that's what frightens me. He will be worried about going out now, although he is trying to put a brave face on it."

She said her son turned 15 the day after the horrific attack and that he had never seen the lads before.

The gang were all Asian, aged 15 to 17, and were wearing hooded tops.

Detective Inspector Paul Hitchen said: "This was a vicious attack on a lone teenager for no apparent reason. We have a dedicated team of detectives working on this. I would like to add that there is no suggestion of any racial element whatsoever to this assault.

"I would appeal to all members of Bolton society who may have information about this attack to come forward and help us bring these people to justice."