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Walsall boss Dean Keates: League One will be a tougher division next season

By Matt Maher | Walsall FC | Published:

Dean Keates has warned Walsall must be ready to compete in a tougher League One next season.

Dean Keates.

The Saddlers finished a lowly 19th last term and Keates is working to strengthen the team during his first transfer window as boss at the Banks’s.

He believes the challenge they are facing has gotten tougher due to the presence of both Sunderland and Coventry in the division.

The Mackems, who have suffered successive relegations, are expected to receive a Premier League parachute payment in the region of £34million – more than five times Walsall’s turnover for the last financial year.

Midfielder Jack Rodwell, who remains on the books at the Stadium of Light, is also set to pocket wages of around £44,000-a-week.

Jack Rodwell

Keates said: “It’s going to be very interesting. You look at the likes of ourselves, Accrington and AFC Wimbledon, it is fair to say Sunderland dwarf our budget.

“Then you’ve got Coventry coming up, having just taken 40,000 fans to Wembley. You would suspect they might kick on again.

“I think it makes the division stronger than it was last season. It is a tougher prospect.

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“We have to make sure we are as competitive as we can be. All being well, I will be able to bring players in who improve the team and allow us to do that.”

Keates began his summer work with the signing of striker Andy Cook, while the boss has also beefed up his backroom team with the arrival of assistant Andy Davies and Michael Oakes as goalkeeping coach.

Doing business during a transfer window is nothing new to Keates, who spent 18 months in charge at Wrexham before replacing Jon Whitney at the Banks’s in March.

He said: “At Wrexham we were the only club in the National League Premier who had to operate in the international transfer window, due to being located in Wales.

“Ideally you want to get your business done as quickly as you can but it is not always possible.”

Matt Maher

By Matt Maher
@mjmarr_star

Chief sports writer for the Express & Star.

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