Steve Claridge has yet to kick a ball in anger for Walsall, but his profound influence on a struggling team has been lauded by Kevan Broadhurst.

The deadline-day arrival of Claridge from Bradford City has certainly whetted the public's appetite, but he has been placed in cold storage because of Bradford's understandable reticence to let him play against them last week.

However, Claridge is now ready to take his bow in a Saddlers shirt.

A relegation battle at the bleak surroundings of Bloomfield Road in Blackpool wouldn't be anyone's preferred choice to make their debut, but Claridge is a maverick.

With socks around his ankles and ungainly running style, the 39-year-old is an incongruous sight to behold. Yet he is a prodigious talent at League One level, despite his advancing years, so Saddlers manager Broadhurst makes no secret of the fact he will lead his front line tomorrow.

What Claridge produces on the pitch is of paramount importance for Walsall as they bid to secure their League One status.

Nevertheless, Broadhurst intends to cite Claridge's hunger for football as an example to all the young pretenders to his throne.

"I haven't bought Steve to sit on the bench," said Broadhurst. "The lads have really taken to him and he has had an unusual career. I am sure he is ticking off as many clubs as he can around the motorway network!

"He is a naturally charismatic type, who has fitted very easily into our dressing room. I asked him to take the warm-up on his first day (Monday) and it was no problem whatsoever.

"He is a very strong character and we are going to need people like him for the immediate future.

"What we need to move forward and what we need now might be different, but his experience will be crucial. It is important that the young strikers watch and learn from someone like him."

With young strikers such as James Constable and Andrew Barrowman at his disposal, Broadhurst is keen to instil a strong work ethic. "Steve is a natural leader and he will demand more of others," he added.

"James and Andrew aren't the finished article yet. They need a lot of work and they need to be pushing harder for a first-team start.

"Claridge plays like he trains. He looks upon every training session as an opportunity to improve.

"He works on the timing of his runs and holding the ball up in exactly the same fashion as you see in a game.

"If you aren't right at training, then you won't get it right on Saturday. Training shouldn't be viewed as an inconvenience or optional extra. You have to do well in both to improve."

Broadhurst can welcome back Pablo Mills and Simon Osborn from suspension tomorrow along with the addition of Claridge.

All three are likely to start against Blackpool, while goalkeeper Michael Oakes is set to return from his twisted ankle. Grant Smith, however, is an injury doubt whilst Kevin James and Michael Standing are definitely out of contention. ..SUPL: