Dean Smith hails Walsall FC debutant Ben George

Walsall manager Dean Smith today hailed Ben George after handing the teenager his debut.

Dean Smith
Dean Smith

The 19-year-old made his Saddlers bow in Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Brentford after a raft of injuries.

Ben Purkiss, James Chambers and Richard Taundry are all sidelined to leave George as the Saddlers’ only specialised right-back.

And Smith insisted he had no problems with throwing the rookie in at Griffin Park as Walsall remained ninth in League One.

He said: “He’s got a fantastic attitude. He’s one who has come through and I had him as a youth-team player so I know what he can do. He’s dogged, attacking and doesn’t let many people get the better of him and we saw that.

“I had no qualms putting Ben in. I told him on Friday there was a possibility. He’s a first-year professional who has been with us all season and he could just slip in automatically.

“There are other options you could do by putting a left-back in a right-back position but he did admirably.

“James had eight stiches in his ankle last weekend and it got a bit angry in the middle of the week so he was never going to make it. We thought Ben Purkiss would, but he pulled up in training on Friday.”

George, who cleared a Marcello Trotta shot off the line, becomes the fourth academy graduate to make his Walsall debut this season after Jake Jones, Aaron Williams and Mal Benning.

Smith added: “He’s got a future. He’s come in just like Mal Benning did.

“I was really pleased with Ben. He put in a really good effort against a really good team. It was always going to be a tough game – we’re in form and they’re on a good run as well – but we came through with a point.”