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Sadler believes Draper will be a real handful in League Two

17 July 2023

Club News

Sadler believes Draper will be a real handful in League Two

17 July 2023

Walsall Head Coach Mat Sadler believes striker Freddie Draper will be a real nuisance to defenders in Sky Bet League Two this season.

The 18-year-old, who recently joined on loan from Lincoln City, featured for the first time in a Saddlers shirt during Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Premier League side Aston Villa.

Draper played 45 minutes at the weekend and Sadler feels relationships between players are slowly starting to develop and will continue to improve as more football is played.

He was pleased with Draper’s first outing and feels he’s a player who will cause defenders problems.

“I believe Freddie will be the type of forward that centre-backs will really dislike playing against,” said Sadler.

“I think he’ll ruffle feathers, he’ll back in, he’ll be horrible to play against but he’s also got a little bit about him as well.

“What you saw from Freddie, it was a tough outing and it was hard work. He’s been playing a really good standard of football in Ireland but that’s another step up on that.

“Another thing I want to highlight is the relationships that they have started to build. They are in the formative stages of playing together, there are things we’ll start picking up on each other. Maybe some of Oisin’s (McEntee) forward runs and then maybe we don’t make that same run as somebody else so when they play more with each other, they’ll really start to understand each other and that’s what’s great about these pre-season games.”

The Saddlers held their own against Premier League opposition and only conceded via a penalty.

Sadler stressed that he wants his team to play on the front foot but is also keen to make his side a solid unit as a collective.

“I said it when I first came in, I’ll make us as organised as I possibly can make us and that will be based on the next game that we’ll play but what I’ll also do is be extremely front foot with it, especially when we play at home,” he explained.

“I want our supporters to see an organised high energy press and it’s hard work, it’s really hard work to do that but I believe we’ve got a group of incredible athletes that are more than capable of doing that hard work set off by our wing-backs or set off by our two outside number eights and backed up by our number four.

“What I hope I’ve got and believe I’ve got is outside centre-backs that are willing to go in and engage, step in and press. If that doesn’t work out, I’ve got a centre-back in Donervon Daniels who reads the game exceptionally well.

“There were loads of pleasing things, it’s another step on the pre-season plan but it was a good one.”

There was slight concern when Douglas James-Taylor, who was introduced as a half-time substitute, had to be withdrawn in the second half but Sadler revealed that the injury the forward sustained wasn’t too serious.

“Douglas felt his hamstring slightly but on assessment, it seems like he’s absolutely fine so that’s good,” Sadler confirmed.

“We keep moving and on to the next one.”

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