New Walsall deal for Liam Kinsella as James Hardy signs
Walsall fans' favourite Liam Kinsella has signed a new deal while fellow midfielder James Hardy has joined from AFC Fylde on a free transfer.
Kinsella was one of only two of last season's squad to be offered fresh terms and has agreed to stay despite interest from League One clubs.
Hardy, a 23-year-old Manchester City youth product, arrives at Darrell Clarke's League Two outfit from the non-league Coasters after winning the FA Trophy – beating Leyton Orient 1-0 in the Wembley final – with them.
He scored 16 goals in 44 games last term and has just won England C's Player of the Year gong.
Kinsella, also 23, was one of the few bright spots of last season for the Saddlers, winning their Young Player of the Season award and also being crowned Community Champion for his work off the pitch.
He was offered an extension after relegation along with Nicky Devlin – who has since joined Scottish Premier side Livingston – and on agreeing to stay said: "I’m delighted to get it over the line and I can’t wait to get going again.
“When you’re a young kid and you’re coming into the club’s academy, it’s your dream to play for the first team.
“I am continuing that dream and, over the next two years, hopefully, I can continue to rack up more appearances and fingers crossed I can surpass the 100 mark this season.
“The aim has to be to bounce back immediately and hopefully we will be able to do that this season with the new manager.”
Clarke said: "I’ve watched a lot of the games and he’s impressed me with his energy.
"He’s hungry and that’s what we want at the football club – hungry players that want to move the club forward."
Hardy is Walsall's third signing of the summer, with Stuart Sinclair and James Clarke both joining from Bristol Rovers earlier in the window.
He had a loan spell at Halifax last season too.
“It’s a really big club with great fans. It is a great stadium, and I am really looking forward to getting started. I can’t wait," said Hardy.
"I am a creative player who likes to get on the ball and get on the half turn. I like to get in the pockets of space to receive the ball and hopefully, I can chip in with a few goals and assists. I want to excite the fans.”