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Walsall boss Dean Keates happy to shop in non-league

By Joseph Masi | Walsall FC | Published:

Walsall boss Dean Keates is scouring the non-league market as he looks to bolster his squad ahead of the new season.

Dean Keates (Photo: Will Kilpatrick)

The Saddlers chief, who was previously in charge of Wrexham in the National League, has already signed Tranmere striker Andy Cook this summer.

And Keates revealed there are other players in non-league who are among his transfer targets.

“I wouldn’t say a lot of my signings will come from non-league but there are options and possibilities to come out of there,” the boss said.

“What you do get with non-league players is hunger. They want to succeed at the higher level. There is a possibility that one or two will be coming from non-league. They have that desire, which for me is really important.

“They have not come through academies. They want the opportunity to go full-time and do it every single day. They want that tag of being a league footballer.”

Over the past few years, a whole host of clubs in non-league have gone full-time. And because of that Keates feels there are now a lot more players who can make the step up.

“The gap between non-league and the Football League is definitely getting smaller – there is no doubt about it,” he added. “League One was wide open last year and the gap between the conference and League Two is very, very close.

“We are League One but the gap is closing all the time. There are good players out there and it’s been proven over the years.

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“Jamie Vardy is always the one highlighted. But there are other players who have done it. George Boyd went to Peterborough and he has gone on to play Premier League. Marcus Maddison has done well at Peterborough and was up at Gateshead.

“But to pick those players up you need a scouting network in place – which we are working on.

“It needs people on the ground being active and looking.

“I want people out there watching players over a number of games. The final decision will then be mine.

“But I want to be able to watch players knowing that – if the scouts have recommended them - we won’t be fair off.

“Then it comes down to my decision and assessing if they can make the step up.”

Joseph Masi

By Joseph Masi
Football MMPJ - @josephmasi_star

West Bromwich Albion reporter.

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