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Walsall FC boss Dean Smith kicks off talks on new deals

Sport | Published:

Walsall boss Dean Smith today revealed he has opened contract talks with staff and players as he looks to secure their futures.

The Saddlers chief wants to avoid the sort of summer scramble which has often forced the club to build a team from scratch. His No.2 Richard O'Kelly is out of contract at the end of the season with Andy Butler, Will Grigg and Andy Taylor's deals also expiring.

Chief executive Stefan Gamble confirmed last week Smith, who signed a two-and-a-half year deal in October, was eager to start talks and the manager has now made his move.

"We are starting to discuss things with players and staff," said Smith, ahead of tomorrow's League One visit of Yeovil.

"I'm right in thinking that 16 players have made their Walsall debuts this season so it shows it's been a big turnaround during the summer.

"We want some consistency. I want consistency in terms of performances and to do that you need longevity with players. Hopefully we can do that."

Smith has been keen to end Walsall's end-of-season uncertainty but he insisted he couldn't make his mark until deals from the previous regime had expired.

He said: "It's been very difficult because players were under contracts which I hadn't given out.

"You can control the controllables and I can control contracts which are up. I have done that and have awarded contracts where we feel we could put more of a length on them.

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"We want some continuity at the club."

The manager has come under fire from fans after a 15-game winless run continued with a 5-1 battering at Coventry last Saturday.

Smith insisted the club is moving forward but it is a long-term project.

He said: "We said at the start of the season there was a way forward for the club but it was going to be a long process. It's one we want to get right and we're striving to do that. While results haven't been great there's stuff off the field which is pushing us in the right direction."

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