Dean Smith takes permanent charge at Walsall

Dean Smith has been appointed Walsall manager on a full-time basis, signing a two-year deal with the npower League One club.

Smith, the Saddlers' youngest ever captain during his playing days aged just 19, has been rewarded for an upturn in results since first being handed the reins from sacked predecessor Chris Hutchings.

The 40-year-old took charge on a temporary basis at the start of January, with the midlands outfit rock bottom of League One and eight points from safety.

Yet the club's former head of youth was soon handed the position until the end of the season, beating off competition from over 90 other applicants, following two impressive away draws and a home defeat to high-flying Huddersfield in his first three games.

And he has now been appointed on a permanent basis on the back of just four defeats in 15 games since, a sequence which has left 21st-placed Walsall with a real shot at survival and within touching distance of those just above the drop zone, albeit having played more matches.

"It is an honour to be given the job on a full-time basis," said Smith, who made over 150 appearances for Walsall between 1989 and 1994.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for me personally at a club very close to my heart. I am fully focused on the immediate task at hand of avoiding the drop and now that my future has been resolved I can start to plan for the long-term."

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