Walsall boss Darrell Clarke: Use Alfie Bates as an example
Walsall manager Darrell Clarke has urged his young stars to use Alfie Bates as an example as they fight for a place in the team next season.
Academy graduates Joe Willis and Sam Perry have both been offered professional terms with the club.
Midfielder Bates had his break-out year last season, making 21 appearances, and Clarke has challenged his two upcoming prospects to take a leaf out of his book.
“Look at Alfie Bates last season as a first year pro, that should be the target for Joe Willis and Sam Perry next season,” Clarke said. “They’re not going to be week in, week out players – they’re not ready for that.
“Sam did great in his one game against Portsmouth but you can’t rely on those younger players to be seasoned pros playing 40 or 50 games in a season.
“They’ll be in and out of the team and it’s up to them to stake a claim.
“They thoroughly deserve the contracts, they’ve done very well over the last couple years so we’ll see how they get on. Centre-half Tom Leak has done very well on loan at Salisbury – these are still young boys and I think centre-halves mature a little bit later if I’m honest. Tom has done well and is hopefully one for the future too.
“We have Alfie who comes in a lot more experienced next year, and he’ll certainly be looking to play a lot more games and he’s ready to do that.”