09:00 8th August 2014
by Andrew Poole
Former Chelsea man puts pen to paper...
THE SADDLERS have completed the signing of former Chelsea midfielder, Billy Clifford, on a deal initially until January 2015.
The 21 year-old is a product of the Stamford Bridge youth ranks, having been associated with the Premier League outfit since the age of eight.
“This deal gives him the opportunity to further impress,” said Saddlers’ boss, Dean Smith. “He’s had a good upbringing in the game and already in the brief time that he has been with us, he’s displayed great technical ability.
“There are elements of his game that require work, but he is aware of that and is prepared to come here on a short-term deal and work hard in a bid to earn himself a longer-term contract at the club.
“I’ve been impressed by his attitude and his willingness to learn. He has fitted in well and I am delighted to add him to our squad.”
Clifford turned professional at Chelsea in 2010 and signed a long-term deal with the club during the following year following some impressive displays for the reserves.
He was loaned out to Colchester United at the turn of 2013 in a bid to gain competitive experience and followed this up by starting last season on loan at Yeovil Town in The Championship.
A further loan spell followed earlier this year when he headed over to Belgian club, Royal Antwerp, before he was allowed to leave Stamford Bridge earlier this month and joined The Saddlers following two pre-season friendly outings.
“I am excited and happy to put my signature on the paperwork here,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it; I feel that I have fitted in well here and I can’t wait to get stuck into the challenge ahead.
“I’m still a bit rusty, but hopeful over the coming weeks the fans will be able to see what I can do.
“I want to develop as a player. I know that I have some improving to do and I am prepared to put the work in.
“Being here will help me greatly; I’ve been with Chelsea since the age of eight and it’s hard to come out of that bubble and get into the real world, but this is the right place for me to come in order to progress my career.
“I’ve learned a lot at Chelsea and that will stand me in good stead. This is a good time to come to the club and I am determined to set a marker at Port Vale on Saturday by helping us get off to a winning start to the season.”
The new boy will wear squad number 26 and stands by to make his Saddlers’ debut as we make the short trip to Port Vale on Saturday (kick-off 3.00pm).