Darrell Clarke Impressed With Bates and Cockerill-Mollett Darrell Clarke Impressed With Bates and Cockerill-Mollett

Darrell Clarke Impressed With Bates and Cockerill-Mollett

Walsall manager Darrell Clarke has spoken to the local press and sought to praise two of the Saddlers' home-grown prospects with defender Callum Cockerill-Mollett and midfielder Alfie Bates catching the gaffer's eye.
The duo, who progressed through the academy at Banks’s Stadium - earning pro deals after impressing for the Under-18s - are among a host of players battling to impress their new manager ahead of the upcoming League Two campaign.

18-year-old Bates, who signed his first professional contract in May after becoming one of the breakout players in the club's Under-18s, has impressed in central midfield, making the most of his chance in the side, and furthering his reputation as a star of the future.

Whilst 20-year-old, Leicester-born Cockerill-Mollett, who enjoyed a loan spell alongside Dan Vann at Chasetown last season, has shown his ability to adapt after being deployed at left wing-back, left-back and on the left side of a back three.

And Clarke, who has overseen a major squad overhaul since replacing Dean Keates earlier this year, admits he has been impressed with the pair as they add to his welcome selection woes heading into the upcoming season-opening League Two clash with Northampton Town.

Alfie Bates in action.

📷 © Jenny Merrett // KG Hotshots Photography

Firstly, speaking about Bates, the manager said; "Alfie is a fit and robust lad. He has sat in our midfield and done really well. I feel him, Liam Kinsella and Sinclair have complimented each other.

"I’m pleased with the way they have pressed because we want to press. We want to get in teams’ faces and not give them a minute."

Bates has played all three of Walsall’s pre-season friendlies so far. But after being given 90 minutes at Leamington, while Cockerill-Mollett was rested for the Nuneaton clash.

Callum Cockerill-Mollett versus Alfreton Town

📷 © Jenny Merrett // KG Hotshots Photography

The gaffer went on to talk about Cockerill-Mollett, admitting the defender has plenty of ability along with plenty of room for improvement.

Clarke continued; "I thought at Leamington he had a cracking game as the left-sided centre-half in a three. He worked it really well. He is tenacious, strong.

"I’ve been really pleased with him throughout the course of pre-season. I’ve just got to get him communicating and talking a little bit more. But that will come because he’s got a lovely left foot.

"We switched to a back four at Leamington and he was pushing right on as a wide player and that is how I like to see my full-backs play."
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