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DEPUTY BENNING STEPS UP

In the latest of his weekly columns, Scott Brotherton takes a look at young defender Malvind Benning who has recently been given his chance in the Walsall starting XI,

In the latest of his weekly columns, Scott Brotherton takes a look at young defender Malvind Benning who has recently been given his chance in the Walsall starting XI:

It’s tough to get into the Walsall team at the best of times. But if you have Andy Taylor above you in the pecking order then it is an even harder task to force your way in. The left-back has performed consistently all season for the Saddlers and has hardly put a foot wrong.

Mal Benning has had to be patient, extremely patient. He has got his chance now, as Taylor is out for a few weeks with a knee injury, and the best compliment you can give him is that the change has been seamless. Mal has been solid in the games against Notts County and Swindon, and is much improved from the erratic player we sometimes saw last campaign.

Another thing I have noticed is Benning’s attacking nature. Like Taylor, he really pushes up the left flank and has linked up well with Milan Lalkovic on that side of the pitch. He’s not afraid to shoot either, all positive signs of the youngster’s development.
The 20-year-old has plenty of time on his side though and is clearly viewed by Dean Smith as a long term successor to Taylor at left-back. The long spell sitting on the bench will have made him mentally tougher, and hopefully even hungrier to take his chance.

Benning has done well so far but mustn't be too disheartened when he slips back out of the starting eleven. The manager is obviously a massive fan of Taylor and with good reason, so I expect him to be thrown back into the fray at the earliest possible opportunity despite Mal’s confident performances.

I’m sure his patience will be rewarded though. Dean Smith knows what he is doing with regards bringing through young players and he will know when Benning is ready to become a regular.

Walsall have a great recent history with left-backs: Danny Fox, Mat Sadler and now Andy Taylor have all improved their game dramatically while in the Midlands. The way he is going Benning could soon join that memorable list and become a mainstay in the Saddlers’ defence for years to come.

By: Scott Brotherton
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