Walsall fans are unlikely to see any dramatic moves in the transfer market for a while as manager Chris Hutchings waits for current players to decide whether they are prepared to accept the deals offered, writes The Saddler.
He has indicated that he wants decisions from his men in the next month, but players of the quality of goalkeeper Clayton Ince and striker Jabo Ibehre may hang on till the last possible moment to see if any better offers come in from elsewhere.
Both the Saddlers’ stars had good enough seasons to attract interest from bigger clubs, so if they did move on it would cause the management team a real headache to replace them before the new season starts.
Hutchings, who has offered new contracts to eight members of his squad, will have to start considering his options next month, but he said this week: “We are always looking, and we have been from the day we arrived.
“There are one or two players who we have watched and talked about, but first and foremost we’ve got to make sure we know what is happening with the players we’ve got, then we can look closer at bringing people in.
“There is no point in me talking to a player and trying to get him into the club if we have already offered a contract to a player who might be able to do the same job.
“We have to give the players we have offered contracts to the chance to make a decision and reply to our offer.”
From past experience, supporters will not expect much action in the transfer market until the second half of July. Some fans may be waiting to see what kind of squad Hutchings and Martin O’Connor have built before renewing their season tickets.
The worrying drop in attendances last season has emphasised the need for action to revive interest. One point from the last four home matches will have removed any complacency at the Banks’s Stadium.
At the time of writing, only 18-year-old reserve midfielder Richard Davies had signed a new deal, and he said: “As well as playing regularly for the reserves, I have also been on the first team bench 13 times and made three appearances.
“I would have taken that at the start of the season, and it’s good progress for me. I am determined to keep pushing on and will come back for pre-season training with a good attitude so that I can make my mark in friendly matches”.
Davies is the brother of Mark Davies, sold by Wolves to Bolton for £1 million earlier last season.
Other Walsall players who have been offered new deals are: Manny Smith, Netan Sansara, Sofiene Zaaboub, Rene Gilmartin and Chris Palmer. The Saddlers’ travelling expenses - and those of their fans - will soar next season with trips to the likes of Charlton, Southampton and Norwich City, instead of Crewe, Cheltenham and Northampton.
Exeter City have also been promoted from League Two, and if Gillingham beat Shrewsbury in the Wembley play-off finals, that would mean another marathon trip.On the credit side, there will be far more attractive home fixtures, especially if Leeds United fail to win promotion
l The early bird season ticket sale offer, which has now closed, saw a slight increase in sales compared with the previous season. Season tickets and now available, and club spokesman Dan Mole said: “We all realise the importance of support from people in this town.”
*Walsall All Stars meet an Easy Fit team at the Banks’s Stadium on Tuesday (7.30) when all proceeds will go to the Walsall Hospice fund. Admission is free.