Russell Martin joins Walsall as a player-coach
A new chapter is in store for former Norwich defender Russell Martin. The Scotsman has been snapped up by his old teammate, Dean Keates. The Saddlers boss played alongside him back at Peterborough United a few years ago. Now they are reunited, Martin has a chance to make an impact on and off the field.
Handed a one-year contract as a player/coach Martin will be relishing such great opportunities. A chance to make an impact in League One in a side not doing too badly. And also a chance to gain experience as a first-team coach. Walsall has started their season quite well considering their league finish last term. Finishing 19th, just two points ahead of relegation was a cause for concern. With the comparison to last year, fans are still hopeful this time around about a possible playoff contention.
Martin joins a side who are always looking to improve. He could be the perfect addition they need. Possessing the joint-eighth best defence, there is still room for improvement. Although not the worst, Martin could help out in future games. His experience will be key at his new club. With well over 500 career appearances his knowledge could inspire other squad members. He played over 300 games at Norwich from League One right up to the Premier League. He was even on loan at Rangers last season, making nine appearances.
The Scottish international has played 29 times for his country. The Brighton-born centre-back was eligible to play for Scotland through his father's heritage. At 32 he hasn't been called up since 2017 but will obviously focus more on his club football as well as possible coaching roles.
The new Walsall FC player likes to play those long, raking passes to his strikers. This could work quite well as Walsall posses a few big front men. Andy Cook and Morgan Ferrier are both huge targets to play those sort of passes into. The former Peterborough United defender doesn't like to dive into tackles but his concentration is his main strength. That rare ability comes from his professional playing experience.
Martin could be playing alongside Jack Fitzwater who is on loan from West Bromwich Albion. Another centre-back is Jon Guthrie while the main full-backs being played have been Luke Leahy at left-back and Nicky Devlin at right-back. Devlin is a fellow Scotsman.
Dean Keates will know Martin quite well which is why he has given him the opportunity to be a coach as well as an important first-team player. It could be a good omen for him as he has experienced four promotions as a player. Out of the two seasons played in League One with Norwich and Peterborough, he experienced promotions. A 100% success rate of promotion in England's third-tier. Something Walsall fans would want to wish for.
The closest Walsall came to promotion in recent years was during the 2015-16 campaign. They finished third but lost in the playoff semi-finals to Barnsley. There is potential at the club this season to possibly replicate a promotion push this season. But it won't be easy, to say the least. With his status as a player/coach right now Walsall fans would rather see Russell Martin better used as a player.