O'Connor can't wait to get started...THE SADDLERS have strengthened our defensive options with the capture of the versatile James O’Connor.
The 29 year-old former Aston Villa youngster can play anywhere across the back-line and has gained plenty of experience from spells at AFC Bournemouth, Doncaster Rovers – for whom he amassed over 240 appearances – and latterly Derby County.
There were a number of clubs interested in the reliable and no-nonsense performer, but he is convinced that Walsall is the right club for him at this stage of his career.
“I’m delighted to be here,” he beamed in the June sunshine. “Sometimes you just know when something is right and I have had good vibes ever since I first set foot in the place.
“Having spoken to the Gaffer and a few people here, it’s clear that this is a club that is progressing in the right direction and hopefully I can play my part in that.
“In Dean Smith we have a bright, young manager and having worked with Richard O’Kelly for a number of years I know exactly what he is all about and what he wants.
“There is a really positive philosophy here and I totally buy into that. The set-up is very impressive, I’m pleasantly surprised by it to be honest; everything is in place here for us to kick-on.
“The fact that the club is local to me is a bonus. That wasn’t the reason why I came here, but obviously coming from the area I know what the club is about and after speaking to a few people, my heart was set on coming here.
“It’s been a tough 12-18 months for me as I have been in and out of action, but I am itching to get back into it and have worked extremely hard to be ready for pre-season.
“For me it’s about getting back into playing week in, week out, training hard and enjoying my football. I feel that I will certainly be able to do that here.
“The club is ambitious; there are some good players already here and I know that the Gaffer is close to bringing in other new faces to strengthen us, which is exciting.
“League One is a tough and competitive League. I have played at this level before and there is certainly quality here. The key is to be consistent and keep doing the right things. If we can do that, we are sure to be there or thereabouts.
“As I say, this club is building all of the time and I am determined to play my part in that.
“Hopefully my versatility will serve the team well. I am able to play anywhere across the back four and have the hunger to do well, so hopefully I will fit in.”
O’Connor, who was part of Aston Villa’s 2002 FA Youth Cup winning team and briefly played alongside Dean Smith during a loan spell at Port Vale a decade ago, has signed an initial one-year deal.