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Chris Marsh: Walsall need signings, and fast!

We have entered a crucial seven days.

Dean Keates will have to wrap up some signings soon.
Dean Keates will have to wrap up some signings soon.

There is no other way to say it, Walsall need signings and they need them quickly.

From what I’m hearing, a couple of deals are close to being completed.

But supporters are not going to relax until they are over the line because, at the minute, the squad is short on quality, experience and numbers.

If the season started tomorrow, I’d be fearing a long, hard campaign would be in store.

But while I can understand fans being anxious, I think the next seven days will be season defining.

There is still time for Dean Keates to bring in the players he wants.

I believe he will get them – so long as the board back him – and then we can start to judge this team from the opening day.

Results in pre-season have been disappointing, but we have played two excellent sides in Stoke in Villa.

The scorelines really don’t matter so there is no need to look into them too much. It is all about getting the preparation right for the new season.

But there is no doubt we need more players both to improve the quality in the squad and to increase competition for places.

There is nothing worse than a footballer who knows he is going to be picked every week. It does lead to complacency, you need to be kept on your toes, you need competition to get the best out of you.

I had it all the time, Ray Graydon was always bringing in players to compete with me.

Paul Simpson came in when I was playing left wing. Ian Brightwell took my position when I was at right-back.

But that’s healthy, there are very few players who can give their best every week without having someone breathing down their neck and wanting their place.

Of course, one of the reasons why the squad is light on numbers is the horror injury picked up by Kory Roberts on Saturday. And I just want to take this opportunity to wish him a speedy recovery.

In my day, injuries like that were a lot more serious.

I remember Stuart Ryder, who was an outstanding player, injured his knee and afterwards he was never the same player which was a real shame.

But Kory won’t have that problem.

Kory Roberts

It’s a different injury, he has got youth on his side and he will come back from it.

I’m sure he is absolutely devastated, but my message to him would be to use this time to his advantage.

He isn’t going to be playing, but he can still learn a lot from his time on the sidelines.

It’s particularly important for a centre-back to study the game and he now has that opportunity.

Of course it’s not ideal and he could have done without it. But I’ve got no doubt he can turn this into a positive and come back a better player.

Finally this week I’ve got a date for your diary.

I’ve organised a charity game which is taking place on July 29 to raise funds for young Isabella Lyttle.

The 10-year-old is from Walsall, she is a Saddlers fan but she has been diagnosed the rare cancer Neuroblastoma.

I’ve got a Midlands XI that will feature the likes of Lee Hendrie, Richard Sneekes, Daryl Burgess, David Busst, Craig Pead and Darren Wrack.

There are going to be other star names too which I’ll reveal in the Express & Star next week.

But they will take on an XI made up of staff from ERF Electrical Wholesalers in Cannock and Shelfield Vets.

ERF have been fantastic with since I had my brain haemorrhage – particularly Andy Harper and John Jones.

And now we want to join forces to help Isabella.

The match is taking place at Boldmere FC in Church Road and will kick off at 2.30pm.

They’ll be lots of family entertainment as well so please come along and support us.

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