It has been a busy couple of days for Matt Taylor and Jamie Fullarton. They have started building the side that will be out for a much better finish than the disappointment that was witnessed in the 20/21 season.
Here is a signing I don’t think many of us would have predicted. Joss Labadie has been one of the most consistent and reliable midfielders in League Two for the last few seasons. He has been a part of a Newport side that has got to the play-off’s twice in his four year spell. He has been their captain for the previous three seasons, and brings with him a wealth of experience and know-how.
Central-Midfield was low on the priority for recruitment, but it shows how good Labadie is that no-one has mentioned anything other than how much of a coup he is. He adds a bit more steel and grit into the middle of the park, and will help with the development of Bates and Perry, who may see their roles adapted slightly by Taylor.
Labadie has made well over 300 league appearances, all of which have come in Leagues One and Two. This is extremely valuable to the squad, and club as a whole. A few have already mentioned that he could be the new Walsall captain, but for now, fans are excited at the prospect of a Labadie and Kinsella midfield duo.
After a stuttering season with Orient two years ago, Wilkinson found a rich vein of form, with his best goals return to date. Wilkinson scored 15 in all competitions, with a couple of assist thrown in too. Wilkinson can be a fiery character, but that is something that has been lacking in the Walsall attack for some time.
Wilkinson is not a typical tall target man striker. He is good with the ball at his feet, and can go on marauding runs. He also scored some fine goals for Orient, including their goal of the season.
It is a big signing for the Saddlers, and shows that they are in the hunt for players who are tried and tested in League Two. Wilkinson also has a lot of respect for Fullarton, and was impressed with Taylor too. His high praise shows that Walsall are once again, a very attractive prospect for players to go to.
Two statement signings
Both Labadie and Wilkinson have rejected contracts at their current clubs to move to Walsall. The high praise about the set-up at Walsall, and especially Matt Taylor, feels more than the usual comments made when a player moves club. It has given fans a real hope for better things.
These are two statement signings. Labadie has led a team to the play-off’s, but has opted to move to Walsall instead. Wilkinson had his best goal-scoring season, and despite a high calibre manager coming in to Orient, Kenny Jackett, he has decided that Walsall is the club to go to.
Leigh Pomlett must also receive praise for backing his recruitment team on signing these two players. Both will have had several clubs after them, but Pomlett has made sure that the funds were there for both. With a threadbare squad, and not many on the wage book, it is not exactly stretching the budget, but they aren’t silly. The offers will have been competitive, but not so high that the budget is being stretched early doors.
They are two great signings, and has sent the message out that Walsall are going to get quality players in, and have a successful season.
Photo Credit – Walsall FC