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Smith: Baxendale is a real find for us

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Walsall chief Dean Smith today insisted James Baxendale could be the find of the season and backed the flying winger to get even better.

The manager reckons he has bagged a bargain after Baxendale's instant impact for the Saddlers.

He has two goals in four starts after stunners in the wins over Portsmouth and Preston helped lift the Saddlers to seventh in League One. And after snapping him up on a free transfer, following his release from Doncaster, Smith said Baxendale is a rough diamond.

"James could be a find couldn't he?" said Smith. "He's got a great music taste as well. I saw Bax coming down the tunnel after Saturday and he said the club have gone Stone Roses mad.

"He came into pre-season and impressed straight away and he was always going to get a contract because of the way he is.

"He's the sort of player who excites me and what a great finish it was against Preston.

"He's getting better every game, so is Ben Purkiss and other players.

"I heard Roy Keane say players only start coming into the game after eight or nine games because they need to get match fit.

"My lads are just starting to get that way."

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The Saddlers head to Bournemouth on Saturday aiming to keep pace with the early leaders after one defeat in their last seven league games.

George Bowerman's brace against Preston took him to five goals for the season – one more than his total last season.

The 20-year-old has nine goals in eight career starts for Walsall and Smith has been impressed with the striker's maturity this term.

Smith said: "He's matured and he'll be the first one to credit Will Grigg. Between the two of them, when we've gone away, they've had a thankless task of plying on their own up there and George does what he does best.

"He worked really hard, worked the channels and brought others into play. He's been excellent. He's always known what he's needed to work at because we keep telling him but he wants to listen and become educated by what we're after. He's coming along nicely."

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