Express & Star

Walsall squad is Dean Smith's 'best ever'

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Chief executive Stefan Gamble believes Walsall have begun this season with a stronger squad than the previous campaign.


The Saddlers' chief thinks the relative low turnover of players this summer is a sign of how far the club has progressed during the four-and-a-half year tenure of manager Dean Smith.

To this point, Smith has brought in just three new signings after releasing four and seeing keeper Richard O'Donnell leave on a free transfer to Wigan.

Speaking at a fans' focus meeting held at the Banks's Stadium earlier this week, Gamble confirmed funds are available for Smith to strengthen the squad further before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

He said: "In my opinion, the squad is slightly stronger than it was 12 months ago. We have have had a very small turnover in players.

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"There are funds available before the end of the window if he wants to spend. From a board's perspective, and from the manager's as well, there is no point in signing players just for the sake of it.

"There is no point in buying players who are not going to improve on the ones we have got."

Smith has confirmed he wants to bring in at least a couple of new signings before the end of the month.

The manager has been operating with an increased playing budget, but Gamble rejected claims last season's run to the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final had boosted the club's coffers by more than £500,000.

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He said: "It was a six-figure financial windfall for us, but not as big as some of the figures which have been bandied about.

"Don't get me wrong, it was lucrative for us and something we hadn't budgeted for. But there were a lot of costs which went against it."

It has, meanwhile, been confirmed Walsall's tie at Morecambe in the first round of this year's Johnstone's Paint Trophy competition will take place on Tuesday September 1 (kick-off 7.45pm).

Ticket information will be confirmed in the coming days.