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Clarke Insists Alfie Bates Isn't 'Out in the Cold'

Walsall manager Darrell Clarke has spoken ahead of this weekend's League Two clash between the Saddlers and Forest Green Rovers and insisted there is no truth in the rumours that midfielder Alfie Bates is 'out in the cold'.
18-year-old Bates, who has been on the radar of several top flight clubs over recent years, hasn't featured since the Saddlers' 3-1 defeat to Chaltenham Town on 11th January, but the manager insists there is no issue.

Saddlers supporters have started to to question Alfie's absence over recent weeks but the manager says he remains in his first-team plans but needs to work on being more consistent if he wants to secure a regular starting spot.

Speaking via the Express & Star, Darrell said; "People on the outside might have it on their agendas that he's out in the cold, but it's a load of rubbish. Alfie Bates is an 18-year-old kid that has done absolutely fantastic so far this season.

"His performances recently have been inconsistent, in his own words, and we'll keep working away with the lad, that's football. I have a tremendous group with a tremendous work ethic – they have a fantastic spirit.

"We're all together here and Alfie is one of the young lads that are trying to break through into the first team on a regular basis. He's a great kid with a great attitude and hopefully he has a good career in the game."

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