Saddlers boss Dean Smith challenges David Grof to win back place

Boss Dean Smith today insisted he made the right call in axing David Grof but challenged the Walsall keeper to win his place back.

Dean Smith stock 3

The Hungarian was left out for the first time this season after Smith handed Karl Darlow an instant debut in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Preston.

Nottingham Forest loanee Darlow signed just 24 hours before the game but Smith said the time was right for a change.

He said: “David was disappointed when I spoke to him but he understood as well. He’s made mistakes earlier in the season and I’ve stuck by him but there comes a time where it’s time to pull someone out and give them a breather.

“He’s still young at 23-years-old and it’s his first season as a No.1. With Wacka (Jimmy Walker) injured he hasn’t really been pushed and I felt it was the right time to bring Karl in.

“He’s highly thought of and I thought, while he didn’t have a lot to do, he gave an accomplished display.”

And Smith, who has Walker back training this week after a calf injury, believes the break will help Grof to recover and win his place back.

He said: “It was a tough on David but I made a decision and I spoke with him about it. We’d conceded too many goals outside of the box – not all because of David – but six out of 10 have been outside the box.

“I thought Karl could come in and Dave could regroup and get ready to push on again.”

Victory left the Saddlers seventh in League One with Smith purring over their performance.

He added: “It’s not an awful lot about us coaching them, it’s about players believing in what they’re doing. They went out there and did it on Saturday.”