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Walsall looking to secure deals for their loan stars

Walsall will look into permanent deals for loan stars George Miller and Rollin Menayese – with value for money being the focus of their recruitment.

Stefan Gamble, Jamie Fullarton, Leigh Pomlett, Matt Taylor and Graham Whittaker at the Saddlers fans’ forum (Credit: Walsall FC)
Stefan Gamble, Jamie Fullarton, Leigh Pomlett, Matt Taylor and Graham Whittaker at the Saddlers fans’ forum (Credit: Walsall FC)

Chairman Leigh Pomlett, technical director Jamie Fullarton, boss Matt Taylor, chief executive officer Stefan Gamble and supporter liaison officer Graham Whittaker fielded questions from supporters at the Banks’s Stadium on Tuesday night.

One of the key topics discussed at a two-hour-long fans’ forum was the club’s strategy for bringing in players.

And Pomlett admitted the Saddlers would like to have top scorer Miller and impressive centre-half Menayese beyond the end of this season, should deals for the duo make financial sense.

On whether they could buy Miller from Barnsley, he said: “Possibly. When you take a Championship player like him in, their wages are very considerable.

“If Matt wanted to sign George Miller, from the chairman’s perspective, if they asked me, yes, we would try to sign him.”

When asked about Menayese later on, too, Pomlett added: “I’m always a bit wary when talking about specific players, but Menayese is a very good player.

“He was at Grimsby last year and played against us. He’s a good, young centre-half – only 23.

“We are trying to make sure he’s a Walsall player.

“I think he’s been an extremely important player at the back with Manny Monthe. He’s one we would try to bring into the football club.”

The event saw fans in good spirits, with questions covering aspects both on and off the pitch.

Problems with the matchday experience were addressed, as Pomlett confirmed 70 new staff had been taken on to rectify issues around food and drink, ticketing and cleanliness.

Taylor, meanwhile, spoke positively on the side’s eight-match unbeaten run while revealing he expects injured quartet Rory Holden, Conor Wilkinson, Liam Kinsella and Zak Mills to return before Christmas.

Leigh Pomlett and Matt Taylor answer questions (Credit: Walsall FC)

Supporters were pleased to hear Fullarton offer a detailed insight into his work at the club so far as well. The Scot has set up a scouting network and is undertaking a full review of the academy to ensure they develop ‘winners’.

He also insisted there are solid back-up plans in place should Walsall have any of their five loanees recalled – although they do not expect the parent clubs to take such action.

“Building systems, having a strategy and process, they’re all great buzzwords, I know that,” said Fullarton. “But regarding recruitment and scouting, there was nothing in place.

“Where we’re at now, we have a network out there gathering intel.

“What’s really important from a strategic point of view is that if for any reason – and I don’t think it will – but if any of our loanees are called back, we have a plan B and plan C ready as replacements.

“For the first few months, it was a real review of where we were at and what we needed while supporting Matt to get the squad of players we needed to hit the ground running. Structure is what will give us a foundation.”

Fullarton would later go on to add: “This is where my Scottish heritage kicks in. It’s about spending wisely.

“We want to get value. It’s that system and process we talk about, to make sure we spend wisely. We have to make sure we get value.”

Also on the night, Pomlett insisted Walsall remain committed to securing the freehold for the stadium and said wholly owning the ground is ‘the right thing to do’.

The search for more investment into the club is an ongoing process while they are also keen to revamp the out-of-use Saddlers Club – although doing so would cost around £300,000.

Pomlett confirmed Walsall inserted a sell-on clause into the deal that saw Elijah Adebayo join Luton back in January, too.

Among the more light-hearted questions was one asking Taylor if the transfer window opened tomorrow for a day and he could sign someone for any position, where would he reinforce?

Taylor, to his credit, gave two areas in response – admitting full-back is an area they could strengthen while ‘if greedy’, he would take another striker.

He ended a positive night by thanking the fans for the ‘brilliant’ backing he and the players have received over the past few months and urged them to carry on following the team in strong numbers.

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