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Jon Whitney aiming to offer more Walsall youngsters their chance after Mitch Candlin debut

Sport | Published:

Walsall boss Jon Whitney could give more youngsters the chance to shine this season after handing a surprise debut to striker Mitch Candlin.

The forward, who is a first year scholar, was named on the subs bench alongside winger Tobias Hayles-Docherty for the Saddlers trip to Bradford on Saturday.

Whitney's men ultimately slipped to a 1-0 defeat during the keenly contested clash in Yorkshire.

But Candlin impressed in a brief substitute appearance – with Whitney confirming more promising teenagers could feature this year.

"If they are good enough, if they prove themselves and if we feel they are ready they will get a chance," the boss said.

"It's a reward for how well they have done and I have always said age is nothing to me.

"If you are good enough and you can prove yourself with the under-23s you will have a chance. Our kids are our future and we have to face that.

"It was great for me to be able to put Mitch on. But I wasn't putting him on just for the sake of it. I put him on because he is good enough.

"If you look at him, he is a real physical presence. He is a threat and he is something we haven't got.

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"You can see what type of player he will turn into. A target man. And you have also got Tobias who has got raw pace. It would have been nice to be in a position where we could have put him on at Bradford."

Whitney hopes the inclusion of Candlin and Hayles-Docherty will lead to other youngsters believing they can force their way into the first-team.

"Opportunities arise in football." the boss continued.

"We have picked up injuries to Eoghan (O'Connell) and Erhun (Oztumer).

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"Cameron Peters has done really well in the development team and he probably would have got his chance at Bradford.

"But he picked up a niggle and suddenly Mitch is the next in line.

"That is why you have always got to make sure you train right and you are ready when called upon.

"It's exciting for me as a gaffer to know these players are coming through."

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