Rory Holden gives Walsall team flexibility, says Darrell Clarke

By Liam Keen | Walsall FC | Published:

Walsall manager Darrell Clarke insists the ability to change formations within a game is a major factor in Rory Holden's recent success.

Rory Holden celebrates his winning goal against Northampton

The on-loan midfielder has been impressive in the second-half of the season, after previously struggling on the right wing in a 4-4-2 formation.

In the second-half against Port Vale on Saturday the team were able to change to a 4-2-3-1 formation, without making any substitutions, allowing the 22-year-old to play behind the striker – and that 'flexibility' is appealing to Clarke.

“I like that flexibility to be able to change within a game," he said.

“With Rory on the pitch it enables me to quickly change to a 4-2-3-1 when need be. 

“It just gives me that option, because he can get himself into good positions.

“That versatility is important to be able to change shape when we need to."

The Bristol City loanee came under fire earlier in the season for below-par performances, but after dramatically improving his displays, Clarke believes he has got stronger mentally – and that the footballing ability was always there.

“I think he’s always been a good player and he’s a young lad developing," he added.


“Unfortunately, it’ll break people’s hearts, but it takes a bit of time doesn’t it. 

“They go through spells but mentally I think he has come on very well because he’s always been a technically gifted player. 

“The fans are starting to appreciate him a lot more and why we’ve been patient with him because he has the ability. 

“Fans are always going to be impatient in those situations, and that’s not having a dig. 


“That’s at every club up and down the country and you need to work with players and be patient - work on the mental side of the game. 

"The mental strength of the players, I believe, is stronger now – that’s testament to the group growing.

"When you have the turnaround that we’ve had, the progress has been quite good to be honest."

Liam Keen

By Liam Keen
Sports Reporter

Sports journalist at the Express & Star, primarily covering Walsall FC and grassroots sport across the Black Country and Staffordshire. Got a story? Get in touch on 01902 319456.


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