Express & Star

Peter Clarke happy with how Walsall are coming together

Veteran defender Peter Clarke says the morale at Walsall is high and the new-look group are gelling nicely.


Saddlers boss Michael Flynn has overhauled the squad, bringing in 13 signings while several trialists have also featured in pre-season thus far.

Clarke, who turned 40 earlier this year and has amassed almost 900 career appearances, is one of the many fresh faces.

When asked how everyone has come together, the ex-Tranmere Rovers man said: “It’s a new group. It’s not the first time that I’ve been in this situation, but there’s a real togetherness and family feel.

“There’s a nice spirit around the group, and I think that comes from the top down – the co-chairmen, the manager and his staff. It’s certainly a place where players want to be.

“We’re enjoying our work, and long may that continue.

“The togetherness, the spirit, that’s what is needed when you’re in the thick of it in a league season and the going gets a little bit tough.”

Centre-half Clarke is expected to play a prominent role for Walsall, with his impressive performances for Tranmere last term seeing him named in the League Two team of the season.

He played 45 minutes as the pre-season schedule continued with a 1-1 draw at Leamington on Tuesday night, featuring at the heart of the back three alongside Donervon Daniels and trialist Ben Richards-Everton.

Andy Williams scored for the Saddlers, whose next game is at AFC Telford United on Saturday.

“Pre-season is about being ready for the start of the season,” added Clarke.

“You could go and win all your games in pre-season, but clubs have probably done that and then had a terrible campaign.

“Pre-season is an opportunity to learn, progress and get better.

“We’re a relatively new group. We’re all learning about each other’s games and the little niches of individuals.

“So, we want to be ready for the start of the league season. Leamington was another stepping stone in the process of being ready for that.

“There were some good things in there and also some things that’ll need working on, but that is a pre-season game for you. We’re well aware that players are going into games tired and fatigued. They’re not at their freshest.

“But again, it’s all part of pre-season and why we go through this process every year.

“It’s never a particularly pleasant one, but it’s a necessary evil.”