Walsall make Conor Wilkinson the first signing of the summer

Walsall have made their first signing of the summer with the capture of free agent Conor Wilkinson on a two-year deal.

The 26-year-old forward makes his move to the Banks's Stadium following two seasons at League Two rivals Leyton Orient and will officially become a Walsall player on July 1, when his Orient deal expires.

Wilkinson was offered new terms by the London club but has instead been lured to the Saddlers where he becomes their first signing of the summer since Matt Taylor took over as head coach.

Walsall are in desperate need of forward options as they rebuild the squad, with no strikers signed up until Wilkinson arrived.

The London-born forward can play as an out-and-out striker or off the right wing. He played both positions for Orient in his two-year spell there.

Last season he scored an impressive 15 goals in all competitions as Orient finished 11th in the league.

In the 2019/20 campaign he netted five times.

One of those goals came against Walsall as he bagged the third in a 3-1 home win over the Saddlers. Five minutes after his 75th minute strike he was given a straight red card for grabbing Dan Scarr around the throat.

His move to the Black Country comes a day after Scarr left for League One Plymouth Argyle.

Wilkinson began his senior career at Bolton and picked up a handful of Championship appearances for them. He also worked with technical director Jamie Fullarton while at Bolton.

He had several loans across the Football League, including spells with Oldham Athletic and Barnsley, before eventually moving permanently to Gillingham.

Although he struggled for goals at The Gills he did pick up valuable League One experience before dropping down to the National League with Dagenham & Redbridge, where he scored 12 times in 23 games.

From there he made his move to Orient who were newly promoted to League Two.

“I’m very excited,” Wilkinson said.

“Once I met Jamie and I met the manager it was a no brainer for me.

“I’ve had a fair few offers in the window but this one came to me and made a lot of sense for me.

“I’ve worked with Jamie before during my time at Bolton and I felt like I was at my best form under him. He got me going and he knew how to get the best out of me.

“I met Matt a couple of weeks ago. He and I have spoken more than I’ve spoken to my girlfriend.

“When I met him, no one had ever broken-down football like that to me before, the way he spoke and the way he knew the game. I was driving home from the meeting and I was amazed because I’ve never met a manager who has shown me that side of football.

"From goalkeeper to striker, everything was breathtaking."

Meanwhile, boss Taylor expects big things from the new forward.

“I’m extremely happy,” Taylor said.

“He’s a player Jamie and I have worked tirelessly hard with along with the rest of the club to secure his signature and I feel it’s a real show of intent from the football club that we were able to compete for a player of Conor’s stature for Walsall.

“It gives me another level of excitement in terms of what Conor can bring into the team and to the football club.

“There are expectations on him to score goals, that’s what he’s been brought in for but I’m confident he can deal with that.”

The transfer is also subject to EFL and FA Clearance.

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