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Walsall to Sign Bristol Rovers Defender James Clarke

Walsall FC have confirmed the signing of Bristol Rovers defender James Clarke, who will officially become a Saddlers when his Rovers contract expires at the end of June.

Born in Aylesbury, James Clarke started out with Watford before turning professional at Oxford United, making 36 appearances for the U’s.

He spent three years with neighbours Oxford City, winning promotion from the Southern League in 2011, and first linked up with Darrell Clarke at Salisbury in 2012.

Part of the Whites’ Conference South promotion-winning team, the versatile defender played 37 games for Woking before reuniting with his former boss at Bristol Rovers in 2015.

He featured 40 times as the Gas gained promotion in his first EFL season and made 43 outings last term, helping Rovers keep the fifth best defensive record in League One.

Recently-appointed Walsall boss Darrell Clarke spoke to club journalists and welcomed James to the club, he said; "I’m pleasantly surprised, to be honest with you. I didn’t think we would have a chance of getting him.

"He’s a lad I know very well and he can play anywhere across the back four. He’s more of a centre-half but he’s played a lot of times at right-back.

"We’re not going to be working with as big a squad this year so it’s important we’ve got players who can fill in a few positions. He is 100% commitment and it’s about getting the environment right to the football club.

"He’s quick, strong and uses the ball well. He’s one of the best man-to-man markers from set-pieces I’ve ever worked with; I can’t ever remember his attacker scoring a goal. He’s got all the attributes."

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