Smith tips Bradshaw for Wales call-up
TOM Bradshaw reached 20 goals for the season with a brace to sink sorry Oldham – prompting Walsall boss Dean Smith to back him for Wales duty.
The closest Bradshaw has come to representing his country was an inclusion on the standby list last autumn.
But after seeing his star striker bag 20 goals in a season plagued by hamstring problems, Smith would not be surprised if his country came calling.
Smith said:“It’s a fantastic achievement for Tom, or anybody to score 20 goals in a season. He can rightly take the plaudits, because he works ever so hard.
“He’s got to be close to the Wales squad. They will certainly take notice of the goals he has scored.
“But hopefully it’s a sideward glance because we’ve got more important games for him!
“It was a nice way to finish our home games and we’re pleased that we’ve finished with three wins on the spin.”
And the Walsall boss is keen to ward off any unwanted suitors looking to pinch his leading marksman this summer.
Smith added:“Tom’s got another year’s contract and we are in negotiations to extend that.
“People will take notice because of the goals Tom’s scored. But he’s not out of contract.We don’t have to sell him to anyone and we’ve had no offers.”
Both of Bradshaw’s firsthalf strikes were admittedly tinged with controversy.
First, he looked offside when latching on to Jordy Hiwula’s 18th-minute through pass and coolly dinked over Latics ‘keeper Joel Coleman.
Six minutes later, Bradshaw slammed home his second of the game from the spot with Oldham fuming about a penalty award against skipper Liam Kelly on Mal Benning.
Walsall should have won by more but Coleman saved well from Hiwula before the break, and both Sam Mantom and Hiwula wasted second-half oneon-one chances.
Victory in this mid-table dead rubber moved Walsall into the top half but a listless Latics display did caretaker boss Dean Holden’s hopes of landing the job permanently no favours.
Holden said: “It was a flat performance, certainly in the final third.We were nowhere near positive enough.
“They’ve hit us on the counter and got the first goal and a decision has gone against us for the second and it’s difficult to get back in after that.
“I’ve got to be careful because it looks like you are blaming the result or the performance on the referee and that’s not the case. But when they go against you, it’s tough to take.
“That’s not the reason we lost the game, although of course the second goalgoes against you and we’ve got a mountain to climb then.”
STAR MAN TOM BRADS