Walsall boss Darrell Clarke upset at ‘clueless’ EFL substitutes ruling

By Liam Keen | Walsall FC | Published:

Walsall manager Darrell Clarke has branded the English Football League as ‘clueless’ for not adapting the substitutions rule to ease clubs back following the coronavirus lockdown.

Walsall manager Darrell Clarke.

When the Premier League and Championship returned in June to finish their 2019/20 seasons, clubs were permitted to use five substitutes for the remainder of the campaign.

At Walsall, the squad spent months without proper training and then squeezed their pre-season into four weeks. Clarke has used 19 players in just three games already this season, highlighting the need for rotation, but he feels that the EFL should have done more.

“It’s an obvious one, you need a squad and can’t just use 11 players every week,” he said. “Certainly not with the amount of games coming in September or October because otherwise you start losing players for four to six weeks.

“I judge that with my medical department, strength and conditioning and coaching staff to make sure we don’t have too many players breaking down with injuries, but they’re inevitable to be honest with you.

“I don’t understand how the Premier League can have a break where they can use five subs but they don’t give anything for the lower leagues to even do it for the first couple of months.

“I’m a fan of three subs but for the first couple of months, why couldn’t they change that decision? I’ll tell you why, because they’re clueless.”

Meanwhile, Clarke has praised new signing Emmanuel Osadebe for his impact at the club. The attacking midfielder, nicknamed ‘Paddy’, signed on a free transfer earlier this month and started the EFL Trophy game against Bristol Rovers.

He then made a 30-minute cameo against Grimsby in the first League Two game, making a positive impact from the bench, and Clarke has praised the 23-year-old.


“That’s what you want when players are coming off the bench, you want them to make a difference, not sat there having their pasties and pies,” Clarke added.

“You want them to come on the pitch and make a difference, I demand that otherwise you don’t get on the bench, and Paddy’s come on and I thought he did very well. But he’s another player who has only had three or four sessions with the group and his fitness levels will improve on the way.”

Clarke was also full of praise for midfielder Liam Kinsella, who has started all three of Walsall’s games so far alongside Alfie Bates. “They (Kinsella and Bates) did very well,” Clarke said. “Kinsella is Kinsella, isn’t he? You’d want him in the bunker with you. He is one of the best second ball winners and readers of the situation in the league, his energy levels are fantastic.”

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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