Posted by: Bescot Banter


Bescot Banter columnist Scott Brotherton takes a look at Walsall's options during the January Transfer Window.
Bescot Banter columnist Scott Brotherton takes a look at Walsall's options during the January Transfer Window;

Walsall aren't known for splashing the cash on players. But with the window now open, what does Dean Smith need to do this January to enable the Saddlers’ play-off push to continue?

Extend Milan Lalkovic's loan - 
The Slovakian has been showing signs of really getting into his stride lately, just when his loan from Chelsea is about to expire. However, even he knows the chances of him making it into the first team at Stamford Bridge are realistically nil. Lalkovic has already stated publicly his desire to stay at the Banks’s Stadium for the rest of the season, and Deano has reiterated his wish to keep the tricky wide-man. The only thing that could come in the way of an extension is if a Championship boss has noticed some of Milan’s more eye-catching performances, and he wants to take his chances in a higher league. That seems unlikely though, and I expect the deal to be done in the next few days.

Strengthen the Squad - 
The starting eleven looks pretty much sorted now, apart from the occasional inclusion of Ashley Hemmings and the swapping between James Chambers and Ben Purkiss at right-back. The problem lies on the bench where there isn’t much game-changing quality available. Dean Smith could do with making a few permanent or loan signings to bolster his squad, which at the moment consists mostly of first-year academy graduates. A few experienced players and decent loan signings for the squad will give some substitution options and the manager will have more choices if he needs to change things around.

Don’t lose key players - 
The positive start to the season will undoubtedly have drawn some admirers and they need to avoid an exodus of players during January. Deano proved that he could deal with the loss of Will Grigg, Jamie Paterson and Febian Brandy last summer, but to lose important players in the winter window means it is virtually impossible for a club like Walsall to replace them in such a short amount of time. The whole squad needs to stay together if they want to maintain a serious challenge for the top six.

Get an extra centre-back - 
It could be on loan or on a permanent basis but I do worry about the lack of options in the heart of the defence. Andy Butler and Paul Downing have been brilliant all year, however if one or both get injured I worry about long term cover. Dean Holden is focusing more on his role as pro development coach and can play the odd game, and Matt Preston is the up and comer who might be the answer in the future. I would feel a lot better if we had another experienced centre-back though, just in case anything happens to the two first choices.

By: Scott Brotherton
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