Express & Star

Ryan Stirk situation highlighting strength in depth at Walsall says Mat Sadler

Ryan Stirk’s recent lack of minutes is a shining example of Walsall’s depth in midfield – according to Mat Sadler.


Stirk has started just once in six games since returning from an ankle injury, after starting their opening 23 matches in League Two.

The 23-year-old has scored twice and set-up five more in 27 league appearances this term.

Sadler has set him the target of reaching 40 matches in his debut campaign at Bescot.

He said: “Ryan Stirk came off the bench and did a job for the team. He has been one of our best players all season and at the minute we can’t get him into our eleven.

“Me and Ryan have spoken a lot. I think the most games he has played in a single season was at Mansfield where he played something like 30-odd games.

“The challenge is to get over 40 appearances this season and that’s a big milestone for him to do that for the first time in his career.

“He has been brilliant. He’s had some fantastic performances and we look forward to more. We’ll need him as the season goes on.”

Ross Tierney has also had to settle with cameos from the bench in each of his last four matches.

The Walsall loanee missed the best part of two months with a hamstring injury.

Walsall have found a consistent midfield trio in the shape of Brandon Comley, Jack Earing and Isaac Hutchinson.

But Sadler insists Tierney is very much in his plans and that each midfielder will have a role to play between now and the end of the season.

“Ross stakes his claim everyday in training. He’s a fantastic lad. Somebody who I love working with.” the Walsall boss continued.

“He’s the heartbeat of a large portion of the dressing room with his attitude and his enthusiasm.

“We’re very lucky to have the midfield players that we have. Ross (Tierney), Ryan (Stirk), Jack (Earing), Isaac (Hutchinson), Brandon (Comley), Joe Riley, Jamie (Jellis).

“They are all guys that will contribute to us, especially in these next 15 games. It’s my decision to make for who will play and when to play them.

“Ross is putting his marker down and is desperate to be that one.”