Darren Byfield back at Walsall Wood

Darren Byfield had returned to lead Walsall Wood’s push for Midland League glory.

The former Villa and Walsall striker left Wood at the end of last season to take on the manager’s role at Southern Premier side Alvechurch.

His stay there ended in November and now he has answered a call from Wood chairman Justin Hodgin to return and finish the job he started.

Byfield was agonisingly close to steering Wood up last season when they finished second to Ilkeston on goal difference.

Hodgin has taken the decision to turn to Byfield after seeing Wood’s promotion bid falter in recent weeks having picked up four points from their last five games.

They go into tomorrow’s home clash with second-placed Coventry United sitting seventh in the table, but seven points off the top three who are locked on 44 points, and with three games in hand on all of them.

And Byfield, who watched Wood draw 0-0 with AFC Wulfrunians in midweek, can’t wait to get started.

“I’m delighted to be back,” he said. “I loved it here last season and we were so close to going up.

“Hopefully we can finish the job we started last season and get up.

“If not this year, then we have to make sure we are in a good position to push on next season. But the aim is to give it a real go this season.

“It will take me a couple of weeks to assess the squad and see what we have got and what we might need.

“But hopefully we can pick up points straight away.”

Kris Taylor and Peter Till stepped up to take charge of first team affairs following Byfield departure and they are set to remain part of the coaching staff.

On Byfield’s return, Hodgin said: “He has been welcomed back with open arms. I think it is a good move for everyone.

“Darren knows the club and he knows his football. I think it is a really good appointment.

“We spoke on Monday. It has been a very quick thing.

“We kept in contact while he was at Alvechurch and we have remained friends.

“Darren moved to a club two steps higher in the pyramid and we were happy to let him go at the time.

“We just felt that, at this stage of the season, bringing in a coach with pedigree would give us the boost to push on and really go for promotion this year. The division is wide open.”

“It is no knock on the job Tilly and Tayls (Till and Taylor) have done.

“They will remain at the club as Darren’s assistants and I believe this will help their progression as coaches.

“It is a decision we all reached together.”

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