Walsall boss Darrell Clarke looking at the January loans market

Walsall manager Darrell Clarke insists some of his players are not ‘stepping up to the plate’ as the ponders his movements in the January transfer window.

Darrell Clarke.
Darrell Clarke.

Following an impressive four-game winning run before the festive schedule, Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Carlisle was the club’s third defeat in a row.

Influential attacking midfielder Rory Holden is likely the miss the rest of the season with a knee injury – leaving a huge gap in the squad – and Clarke is looking at replacements.

“Potentially, we’re going to have a look at the free loan market,” he said.

“One or two players are not stepping up to the plate and not showing me anywhere near enough to get an opportunity.

“We might have to look at that market to freshen things up a little bit. I think it would help the group to a certain extent. But we’ll have to see what we can do, there’s no promises.

“We have a lot to talk about and organise and the proof will be in the pudding the next time we step on the pitch”

When asked if other players need to step up and fill Holden’s void, Clarke added: “Yes, certainly. It’s no excuse for this performance (against Carlisle) but he is a key cog. Everyone sees what he brings to us. He gives us that calmness and composure in the final third. He brings our other forward thinking players into play and we look a lot better with him in the team.

“But he’s not in the team. We have to reassess and re-evaluate where we’re going in these next couple of weeks. See if we can get someone in of that sort of ilk or something along those lines in the free market.”

Meanwhile, the Walsall players and staff have all tested negative for coronavirus.

In the latest round of mandatory tests all 44 of them returned negative and as a result, the Saddlers can continue to train and play matches – with an eye on their next fixture on January 16. With coronavirus rates on the rise, and several clubs in the Premier League and EFL suffering outbreaks, every EFL club will now be tested twice every week.

The regular testing programme is being funded by the Professional Footballers’ Association and begins from Monday January 11.

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