The versatile midfielder has been out of action since injuring his anterior cruciate knee ligament against Blackburn in February. Now the 28-year-old has a return to the first-team in his sights with Edwards taking part in the warm-up before the Saddlers took on Portsmouth on Tuesday.
A regular on Walsall’s trips on the road, Edwards has often chosen to travel to games on the coach in a bid to support his team mates.
And Keates has been impressed by the way he has made an impact despite being out with a long-term injury.
“From the day I got the job, I can’t speak highly enough of him,” the boss said.
“He is a proper pro, he is a good player to have around that is why he has travelled with us, he has an input. Joe is old-school. Football is changing now with how players are. But Joe is very much a throw-back. He leads, both by the way he conducts himself around the place and with his voice. From day one he has had an input off the pitch by being around the team.”
Despite missing the last three months of last season, Edwards was still named Walsall’s player of the year.
And Keates is hoping to see him back on the field in late December or early January.
“He is not far, he is ahead of schedule,” the boss added.
“We don’t want to rush him, there are games coming up over the next few weeks.
“He will be like a new signing for us in January. He will be a great addition around January time.”