Express & Star

Good early signs from returning Walsall defender David Okagbue

Walsall boss Mat Sadler has been impressed by the early signs David Okagbue has shown since returning from his ankle injury.


Okagbue joined the Saddlers on a season-long loan from Stoke City on transfer deadline day and made his debut from the bench in a 1-0 win over Colchester in September.

The 20-year-old made his first start the following week in Walsall’s comeback win at Salford City, but was withdrawn at half-time at the Peninsula Stadium.

He then went on to miss six weeks with an ankle injury, before making a surprise return in the Saddlers’ league defeat at Mansfield Town.

Okagbue also started in Friday’s 4-1 victory over Sheppey United, and Sadler has high hopes for the young defender.

“David was chomping at the bit, but we had to go through the right ways of doing things between us and Stoke to make sure he was ready to play, and ready to play 90 minutes,” Sadler explained.

“It was a big ask for his first start in a while to be against Mansfield. He came away from home at Mansfield with his first 90 minutes. Fair play to him for being able to dig in and do that.

“I thought he did well and in training you can see him growing in confidence after getting his first full 90 under his belt.

“We’re are pleased to have him back and it’s timely because we’ve lost a few centre-backs.

“David is a fantastic young centre-back in his own right and he is extremely well thought of at Stoke.

“They’ve got really high hopes for him at Stoke and he was treated like a first team player when he went back for his rehab. For him now, he’ll be desperate to make that his spot.”

Priestley Farquharson’s prolonged absence coupled with Harry Williams’ recent ankle problem has rocked the back line.

But the return of Oisin McEntee provides Sadler with the option to drop him into defence, as he did during the closing stages at Sheppey.

Meanwhile, Sadler was delighted to welcome back Rollin Menayese as a late substitute after 10 months on the sidelines.

“The defensive options are improving. I was pleased to get Rollin on the pitch,” he revealed.

“It’s not been a straight line with his injury. There’s been a few ups and downs. I think there’s still a journey to go for Rollin but it was great to see him back out there.”