Express & Star

New signing Connor Barrett aiming for next level at Walsall

New Walsall arrival Connor Barrett is aiming to take his career to the next level in the EFL after becoming the club's first signing of the summer.

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The 22-year-old, who operates at both right-back and wing-back, has penned a three-year deal with the Saddlers.

He will officially join Walsall when his current contract expires at National League outfit AFC Fylde on June 30.

Barrett spent his formative years in Leicester City's youth ranks, before launching his professional career at Ketterng Town via a brief stint with Burnley under-21s.

The defender played 39 times for Kettering in the National League North and achieved promotion into the National League at Fylde the following campaign.

Barrett was teammates with Walsall goalkeeper Jackson Smith during his solitary season at Kettering, and also played alongside ex-Saddlers loanee Mo Faal at Fylde.

He consolidated his auspicious debut season with the Coasters by registering two goals and 11 assists last term.

Only Chesterfield's Liam Mandeville bettered that tally with 12 assists, while the closest defender on the list was Aldershot Town's Ollie Harfield with eight.

Now, Barrett is eager to continue his recent ascent with a fresh challenge at Bescot.

"I am buzzing to be here," Barrett said after signing on the dotted line. "After speaking to the people involved at the club, it's been positive things so it's the perfect place to be right now.

"I want to kick on from last year. I had a good year and I want to do better.

"Hopefully we can do it together on the pitch and have some great moments.

"All the conversations with the head coach were positive and I feel that under his management and guidance, he'll push me one step further."

Barrett will be a very welcome addition to the squad, especially in the wake of Tom Knowles' departure to National League side Forest Green Rovers next month.

Walsall have unearthed a number of talents from non-league with Harry Williams serving as a prime example following his arrival from Alvechurch last term.

Jamie Jellis also joined from National League North champions Tamworth in January and Sadler is hopeful he has captured another exciting prospect in the form of Barrett.

"We're delighted to have secured the signature of Connor," the Walsall boss said.

"He is someone we have kept an eye on for the last couple of months and we have been really impressed with him during his time at Fylde.

"His first season in the National League was a really good for him with his return of goal contributions.

"He's another exciting young players that we have been able to add into the mix of what we already have here and I am excited to see what he can do in a Saddlers shirt.

"I am sure he's going to keep progressing with us and I'd like to thank everyone at the club who has worked hard to get this deal over the line."