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Richard O'Kelly back with Saddlers

Walsall | Sport | Published:

Richard O'Kelly was today back at Walsall after answering the Saddlers' SOS call.

Richard O'Kelly was today back at Walsall after answering the Saddlers' SOS call.

The former striker has been temporarily drafted in by boss Dean Smith and was on the bench for last night's 3-2 extra-time FA Cup win over Exeter.

O'Kelly, part of the famous Walsall team who reached the Milk Cup semi-finals in 1983-84, is coaching on a voluntary basis after being sacked as Doncaster's assistant manager in September.

The Saddlers had won just once in 15 games prior to their FA Cup first-round replay victory and Smith insisted O'Kelly's arrival has eased some pressure.

Smith said: "Richard's a friend of mine and is in on a voluntary basis, he was working at Doncaster but he's not been doing anything so I asked if he could come in, have a look and lend a hand.

"He's a great man, full of enthusiasm and is enjoying it. He came in on Monday and has been working with us. He's taken a bit of coaching and it's allowed me to stand back a bit.

"I've been trying to get some loan signings in so it's allowed me to concentrate on that a little bit more and watch a bit of training. When we go onto the tactical stuff, I can have my say then.

"It definitely takes a little bit of the pressure off and he's a good bloke – even if he still owes me £10 from when I used to clean his boots!"

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O'Kelly scored 56 goals in 205 appearances in his first spell at Walsall between 1979 and 1986 before a brief return in 1988.

The 54-year-old spent seven years at Albion as youth team coach after a similar stint at Grimsby and spent six months in the youth set-up at Villa.

After that, O'Kelly teamed up with Wolverhampton-born Sean O'Driscoll as assistant manager at Bournemouth in 2004 and had a successful five-year spell at Doncaster before the pair were axed this season.

Smith had previously invited ex-Saddlers hitman Kyle Lightbourne to Essington this term as the 43-year-old, who manages the Bermuda Hogges, wanted to improve his coaching skills.

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