In June, Walsall Football Club exercised its option in Alfie Bates’ contract to extend his stay with his boyhood club following a very impressive first full season with the first team under the watchful eye of manager Darrell Clarke.
The 19-year-old made 21 league and cup appearances in his breakthrough season with the Saddlers, scoring two goals in all competitions, with his first professional league goal coming on Boxing Day is a fantastic 2-0 away win against Scunthorpe United.
And the teenager admits that he is looking to have an even bigger season in the 2020/21 campaign and that he can’t wait to get going now.
“I’m very delighted to be staying with the club for another year,” said Bates.
“I managed to get quite a few games under my belt last season and now I can’t wait to get some more really.
“I set myself a target last season to get 25 to 30 games under my belt in my first season and I got near to that target. I’m just ready to really kick on now and just get some more games under my belt.
“Last season was a big test for me playing all of the games that I did and then coming out of the team, that really did test my mindset and I feel more experienced now having gone through that and I’m more mentally ready for next season.”
One of the main reasons he has developed a strong mindset is because of the support network he has had around him, both on and off the pitch.
Bates highlighted just how good manager Clarke had been with him in his first season with the first team squad, as well as how good the likes of Danny Guthrie, James Clarke and Stuart Sinclair have been with him as well.
“I’ve had a really good support network around me, especially last season,” Bates continued.
“There are a few role models in the group like Danny Guthrie, James Clarke and Stu Sinclair. They’ve really helped me a lot and they’ve helped me get through it.
“They’ve told me to keep going the way I’m going, keep trying to get as many games under my belt as possible and to just keep enjoying myself really.
“The gaffer has been brilliant with me. He has eased me into the team and then he gave me that run of games and I just want to repay the faith he has shown in me to him.”