Express & Star

Comment: Jackson Smith departure offers opportunity to Walsall loanee Tommy Simkin

Jackson Smith’s departure serves as a heavy blow for Walsall, but new loan signing Tommy Simkin will view this as an opportunity to follow in his footsteps at Bescot.

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Farewell: Jackson Smith

Walsall supporters revelled in Smith’s breakthrough success last term but there was always a looming fear that his future could lie elsewhere beyond this summer. That turned out to be the case, despite Walsall’s best attempts to tie him down to a contract extension, as the prospect of a four-year deal at League One side Barnsley proved too good an opportunity to turn down.

He has earned the right to challenge himself at a higher level having ousted Owen Evans as first-choice goalkeeper to make 30 appearances during his only full season at Walsall. The 22-year-old was instrumental to the Saddlers’ League Two play-off push, which eventually ended in disappointment, and he was rewarded further when he was named the club’s young player of the year.