Walsall Set To Sign Championship Wonderkid

Stoke City’s promising goalkeeper Tommy Simkin is expected to join Walsall on loan, as reported by Pete O’Rourke.

Starting his progression in the academy at age 11, the 19-year-old has successfully risen through the ranks with The Potters, signing his first professional contract in April 2022.

Simkin was then given his first taste of the men’s game when he signed a one-month loan deal with National League North side AFC Fylde in July of that year, however, he failed to make an appearance during his time in Lancashire, returning to Stoke for the rest of 22/23.

The young shot-stopper would get his chance to impress in the following campaign though, as National League side Solihull Moors were the next side in line to acquire his services.

Simkin would kick on from here, making the first 19 senior appearances of his career before being recalled in November 2023 after an injury crisis in between the sticks at the Bet365 Stadium. This allowed an unlikely call-up to the starting XI for Stoke’s match against Sheffield Wednesday, in which The Owls would win by a goal to nil.

The termination of his deal at Solihull came at just the wrong time for the 19-year-old as he wasn’t able to rejoin back with The Moors, or any club until the winter window, stunting what had been a very successful season to that date. However, Simkin wouldn’t be without a move for long as in January, Forest Green Rovers became the third club to take the Stoke keeper on.

His involvement during the relegation of The Green Devils was minimal, only starting once before former manager Troy Deeney got sacked, subsequently ending his loan at the same time, leaving the youngster to finish off the season in the PL2 with Stoke.

Simkin has proved himself to be a very capable young keeper, despite numerous setbacks across the campaign for him. He did however make his England U20 debut, coming on as a substitute for the very highly rated James Beadle, adding to his two previous youth international caps.

Stoke are also looking to buy into his future long-term, with current technical director Ricky Martin saying this back in February:

When you are talking about academy graduates, he’s an England youth goalkeeper coming through the ranks and someone we think of very highly so he will be part of our plans and he will be part of our succession planning of who we bring in and when we bring people in.”

Walsall are in need of backup in goal as a matter of urgency before the new campaign, as The Saddlers have only got 22-year-old Jackson Smith on their books. With Simkin coming in, he’ll hope to add depth to the goalkeeper union in the West Midlands.

Writer’s View: 

The fact that statistically, this signing for Walsall doesn’t look like a blockbuster is apparent. Although if the season panned out slightly differently, Simkin would be boasting 50+ senior appearances, most likely looking more than ready for the step up to the EFL. Nevertheless, the ability is there for all to see with the tendency to play like a modern goalkeeper being clear within his play.

For the man himself, this move makes complete sense geographically. He was born just a stone’s throw away from the Bescot Stadium, making this a deal that is natural in line with his ongoing progression as a shot-stopper. From the sixth tier to the fifth, and now the fourth, it’s the perfect way for him to establish himself in the EFL.

From a Saddler’s point of view, defensive reinforcements are a must this summer if they want to try and push on and find themselves in a playoff place come May. Conceding the most goals in the top half of League Two last season, they’ll need to try and rectify that if they want any chance of promotion.

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