Youngster on "surreal" nine months...YOUNG left-back, Rico Henry, admits it has been a "surreal" nine months since making his breakthrough into the Saddlers’ senior side.
The 18-year-old, a product of the Club’s youth system, made his professional debut in a 2-2 draw against Tranmere in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy last December.
He has since gone on to make 15 first-team appearances – five of which this season.
And Henry – our match-winner against Brighton on Tuesday evening - says he is enjoying life among the seniors.
“It feels quite surreal,” said Henry. “I’ve been here seven years and now I’ve finally broken into the first-team - it’s a good feeling.
“There’s a big transition between youth team to first-team so you have to adjust to it quickly.
“But I’ve learned a lot since my first appearance. Playing often, in the first-team and in the reserves, has given me experience and it’s going well.
“It’s great working with the senior players; they’ve really helped me out in training and in matches. They communicate well and support me.
“The gaffer has been good to work with. He has a lot of trust in the squad and has helped with my development as a player. He gives me lots of confidence before games, telling me to just do my normal stuff.
“I’m enjoying my football.”
The Saddlers stalwart scored his first career goal in the aforementioned Brighton win, stroking home Romaine Sawyers’ low cross from close range with just four minutes of normal time remaining.
Henry’s strike secured a memorable 2-1 win over the Championship side, and set up a mouth-watering clash with Premier League champions Chelsea in the League Cup third round.
Speaking after the Brighton tie, Saddlers boss, Dean Smith, expressed his delight for the youngster.
“I was wondering what he was doing in there, but the left-backs have got a habit of getting in the box this season!” said Smith. “It was a good pick out from Romaine as well. Rico carried on his run, and it was very similar to Andy Taylor’s goal last week (against Rochdale).
“I’m really pleased for him; it’s his first career goal.”