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Walsall boss addresses speculation surrounding mysterious player departure

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Walsall Head Coach Matt Taylor has defended himself, stating that he ‘never lied’ following speculation over the departure of Ash Taylor. 

The defender’s contract was terminated by mutual consent last Friday, freeing him up to join Scottish Championship side Kilmarnock.

Taylor made his Killie debut in a win over Partick Thistle the very same night, but had missed Walsall’s loss to Stevenage the previous Saturday after testing positive for Covid-19.

This led to questions from Saddlers fans over whether that was genuine, given that if Taylor had tested positive, he should have still been self-isolating.

When fielding questions on the topic, Matt Taylor was keen to ensure the situation was clarified.

“I’ve never lied to you once, and I never will,” clarified Matt Taylor via the Express and Star.

“At 6.54am that Saturday morning, I got a text from the physio to tell me that Ash had tested positive for Covid because his wife had had Covid.

“I then get told on the Tuesday that his PCR test has come back negative. So, then he could come back into the building.” explained Taylor. 

“That’s the reality. That’s the truth. I have nothing to hide from anybody.”

Having dealt with the issue of the positive Covid test, Matt Taylor swiftly moved on to Ash Taylor’s departure from the club.

“What I can’t guarantee Ash is first-team football. He made the decision that he wanted to go and seek first-team football elsewhere.” said Taylor. 

Ash Taylor had struggled for appearances at Walsall this season, playing in just 11 League Two matches for the Saddlers, the majority of which coming in the opening weeks of the season.

“You want people who want to be here and fight for their position. That goes for anybody,” Taylor continued.

“If they turn around and say there’s something else and they want to go, then okay, as long as it works and protects what is important, which is the football club.”

Taylor was also forced to clarify the reason for Otis Khan’s absence from Walsall’s 2-0 defeat at Mansfield Town on Saturday.

Khan joined the Saddlers on a short-term deal in October last year, which is set to expire in the coming days, fuelling speculation that the contract situation was behind his absence from the match.

However, Matt Taylor was once again keen to set the record straight.

“He’s not here because at 8am, I was told he’d been up all night being sick and was ill, so that’s where we are. He was due to be in the squad.” Taylor explained.

“That’s the truth. I understand there’ll be hearsay, but I have no reason to tell any untruths.”

Asked about a possible new deal for Khan, Taylor said he would like the player to stay, but it was not his decision.

“The contract negotiations are out of my hands,” Taylor explained.

“They’re with Otis’ people and the football club. Would I like Otis to stay? Yes, he’s done well for us.

“But, Otis needs to make that decision.” concluded Taylor.

The Verdict

Ash Taylor had his contract terminated, joined a new club, and made his debut for them, all whilst he, as far as Walsall fans were aware, should’ve been self-isolating, meaning it was right for Matt Taylor to address the situation when speaking to the media.

However, it seems Ash Taylor was indeed left out of the squad for the Stevenage defeat due to a positive Covid-19 test, and not because his time at the club was coming to an end.

The positive test turned out to be a false positive when Ash Taylor did a PCR test, meaning he was no longer required to self-isolate and could play for Kilmarnock after signing for them last Friday.

With Ash Taylor looking for regular football, mutually agreeing to the termination of his contract at Walsall appears to make sense for all parties, particularly given he was straight into the Kilmarnock starting eleven in his first game for the club.

With Ash Taylor out of the door, Matt Taylor will hope Otis Khan doesn’t follow suit in the coming days.

Walsall’s next match comes on Saturday when they host Exeter City in League Two.


BJTC accredited MA Multimedia Journalism graduate. Freelance Football Writer for FLW.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Walsall boss addresses speculation surrounding mysterious player departure

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