Walsall Head Coach Brian Dutton is excited by the young prospects coming through the academy and has been delighted have handed young players opportunities since taking charge.
Dutton has handed academy graduates Sam Perry, Tom Leak and Joe Willis their league debuts during his tenure and is keen to continue bringing players through.
The Saddlers boss went to referee a training game with the club’s under 14s and 15s earlier this week. He was impressed with the talent coming through and how the academy graduates currently in the first team have come through and adapted to League Two football.
“I’m a big advocate of if you’re good enough, you’re old enough and these guys will get opportunities under me if they are training correctly and living their lives as they should be and ultimately, if they’re good enough,” Dutton said.
“The guys on the pitch have ticked every box in that aspect. There’s nothing more pleasing than to give these guys an opportunity and for them to take it. It’s a tough ask to come into League Two football and adapt. It’s a very difficult league and there’s a lot of randomness about it, it’s very uncertain so for these guys to come in, get their opportunity and take it, I’m absolutely delighted. The next crop coming through, I was at the academy training last night taking an under 14s and under 15s training game, refereeing it and that was fantastic to see the next crop of Walsall players coming through the system.
“We’ve got some talented guys in that academy and my vision of the football club is to have local lads with that unique Black Country accent on the Banks’s Stadium pitch echoing around the stadium, making everyone proud. Refereeing those young lads yesterday was very humbling for me because I can see the players in that session who could affect the first team in years to come. That’s what I want, I want young, local Black Country talent on that football pitch creating that pathway, connecting with the fans and making everybody proud because the fans deserve it.
“We’ve got a special group of supporters here. Those fans who gave their money back during a global pandemic, Walsall’s a working-class town and that generosity of those guys who gave their money back shouldn’t be undervalued.
“They probably couldn’t afford to do it but they’re that passionate about the football club and the community that they did do that and that’s a top act of generosity and we need to try and repay them and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
The Saddlers take on Morecambe at the Banks’s Stadium looking to finish the home campaign on a positive note.
The Shrimps still have hopes of automatic promotion and Dutton is expecting Derek Adams’ side to provide a stiff test.
“Probably the toughest fixture that we could have had,” Dutton commented.
“They’re a team that can potentially drop out of the top seven. Is that likely? It’s very unlikely but it’s a possibility. They’re also a team that could go up automatically, they’ve got a live shot of going up automatically so they’re going to be fully motivated, fully concentrated and a they’re a talented team vying for the top three. They’re there on merit and Derek Adams has done a fantastic job, no doubt on a small budget and he’s got a cohesive team with an identity and a style.
“We couldn’t have asked for a more difficult fixture but I believe in my guys, they’re a special group, they won’t shirk it and they won’t have their flip flops on. They’ll be giving 110 per cent to make everybody at Walsall Football Club proud and we look forward to the fixture.”
Watch tomorrow’s game against Morecambe live on iFollow with coverage from 2.55pm.
Click here to buy your match pass.