Walsall comment: Wes's worldie a sign of things to come
The January goal of the month award deservedly landed in Wes McDonald’s lap and the winger keeps proving why he’s one of the biggest success stories this season.
That’s not only as far as Walsall are concerned, McDonald must have had one of the biggest rises in the Football League this campaign.
The 22-year-old was plucked out of the free agent market as a relatively unknown figure.
Having come through the youth ranks at Birmingham City, McDonald had a short spell with Yeovil last season.
On a short-term contract he was used sparingly and was not offered a new deal in January 2019 – while also suffering a bad hamstring injury.
Fast forward to the start of the current season and he came to Walsall with the same short-term contract lasting until January.
It started off in the same vein too, with the occasional substitute appearance.
In reality, he was a winger that didn’t fit into the 5-3-2 formation that Walsall started the season with.
But his emergence in the side has been superb and needed.
After four substitute appearances, his first start came in the 1-0 win over Scunthorpe on September 21.
It was a steady start for the forward, but the game a week later away at Crawley was his first stand-out moment.
The forward curled in a beauty of his own before racing to the byline and setting up striker Elijah Adebayo in a frantic first half.
McDonald was tremendous that day and manager Darrell Clarke himself admitted that his winger won him the game.
It was the start of his purple patch at the club which has boosted him to one of the most threatening attackers in League Two.
He has gone on runs of games this season without a goal, but overall his play has been excellent.
Clarke is well aware that McDonald needs to improve on certain aspects of his game, as he tends to lose the ball too often on a bad day.
“Wes has done well,” Clarke said.
“When he initially joined the club on a short-term deal, coming back from a serious injury, it took him a little bit of time to adjust.
“When he’s had his opportunities he’s grown into a player.
“He knows, as well as me and my staff, that there’s a lot of areas of improvement that he needs to do, but he’s really had a good couple of months.”
But he can also create moments of brilliance all on his own.
The goal against Crawley that won him the goal of the month award was ridiculously good, while only last week he came off the bench at Forest Green Rovers, ran with the ball the length of their half and finished past the goalkeeper.
It’s rare to find players at this level that are capable of solo goals of that calibre, but McDonald has it in abundance.
Walsall already have a real player on their hands, but at still 22-years-old and in his first full season in the Football League, he can get even better.