Walsall prepared to unleash Mitch Candlin
Boss Jon Whitney claims he won’t be afraid to throw Mitch Candlin into the League One fray should the teenage hotshot continue his rapid rise.
The 16-year-old academy product netted his third goal in two games when he scored with his first touch to earn the Saddlers a 2-1 pre-season win at Chester on Saturday.
With Whitney’s search for a new striker remaining fruitless, there is an increasing chance Candlin could now enter the campaign as the club’s third-choice striker – but the manager will not be afraid to involve him.
“Mitch looks like he belongs on the pitch,” said Whitney. “It’s important to for me to show the young ones there is a pathway for them.
“We purposefully left him out early on in pre-season. The reports from the academy on his attitude and application have been great. He has a sniff back with the first team and has scored a goal.
“That is what you have to, he has taken his opportunity.
“Of course, I am hoping he can be involved.”
With Simeon Jackson and Amadou Bakayoko the only senior strikers on the club’s books, Whitney has made no secret of his desire to strengthen the forward line but nothing appears imminent.
Quizzed on potential incomings prior to the League One opener at Bury on Saturday week, he replied: “I am still going to work with what I have got for now but the window is still open. It is open for another while yet.
“There is still time and it’s important we don’t rush into anything.”
Candlin’s goal at Chester earned the Saddlers their first victory of the pre-season programme.
“The message is if you are good enough you can come in,” added Whitney.
“That is what we have to do as a club. You have to be fit enough and strong enough but you would not guess he was 16. He has a work ethic, a desire and a passion.
“He took his opportunity well and could figure if he keeps pushing on as he is.”