Candlin and Hayles-Docherty named in the Saddlers' squad against Bradford...Jon Whitney says young striker Mitch Candlin and winger Tobias Hayles-Docherty have plenty to offer Walsall after both were named in the first-team squad for Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Bradford.
Candlin made his full debut in the Sky Bet League One game - introduced in the 84th minute for captain Adam Chambers in front of a crowd of 17,880 at Valley Parade at the weekend.
The youngster had scored twice in the 4-3 Walsall Senior Cup victory over Wolverhampton Casuals in midweek and saw plenty of the ball in his first professional game.
Candlin was not quite a record-breaker when he came onto the pitch - David McDermott’s cup appearance in 2004 makes him the youngest player to play for the Saddlers overall while Geoff Morris holds the record for the youngest player in a league game, just 99 days older than Candlin was - but making his debut so young remains a fine achievement regardless for the first-year scholar.
And having named second-year Hayles-Docherty alongside Candlin on the substitutes’ bench on Saturday, Whitney insists he will not factor age into whether a player will make his first-team.
“I’ve always said that age is nothing to me if you’re good enough and can prove yourself in the Under-23s,” said the gaffer.
“I’ve been getting glowing reports from John Ward and Graham Biggs and if you’re good enough, I will bring you into our team.
“Our kids are our future.
“It was great for me to able to put him on, but I didn’t put him on for the sake of it.
“I put him on because the kid’s good enough. If you look at him you wouldn’t think he was a young 16-year-old, a first year.
“He’s a threat and something we haven’t got – and you can see what kind of player he’ll turn into.
“I think he’s similar to [Charlie] Wyke for Bradford.”
The pair have plenty to offer the Saddlers going forward, Whitney said, and the Saddlers’ boss is excited at the potential currently coming through the club’s academy system.
“Mitch and Tobias have done really well and you can see they’ve got something different,” he added.
“Tobias has got raw pace, Mitch is a target man who looks after the ball.
“It’s exciting for me as the gaffer to know that I’ve got these players coming through.”