Kevan Broadhurst anxiously glanced at his watch and kept the waiting press corps updated with bulletins of Steve Claridge's progress up the M40.

Walsall's new striker hadn't yet put pen to paper to join on loan from Bradford City, and he is as notorious for his tardiness as he is his goalscoring record.

However, 39-year-old Claridge finally arrived at Bescot Stadium in good time before the 5pm deadline and was oblivious to any fuss when he arrived for his inaugural press conference.

Saddlers manager Broadhurst had also wanted to unveil Jeff Kenna but the player couldn't be tempted away from Derby County.

However, Broadhurst couldn't contain his delight at snaring a striker he believes will transform his side.

This may be Claridge's 17th professional club as a player (plus two as a manager), but the fires within still burn brightly for the striker.

While most near-40-year-old's would settle for a comfortable existence in their role as a media pundit - Claridge's landmark birthday arrives next month - the former Milwall manager is a break from the norm.

His record of 224 goals from 753 first-team appearances is impressive, but he is adamant he still has points to prove.

Love him or loathe him, Claridge is a man you can't ignore and his ubiquitous style will undoubtedly endear him to the Bescot faithful.

Bradford boss Colin Todd comes under the latter category after he ostracised Claridge from his squad and Walsall lock horns with the Bantams tomorrow in a crucial relegation clash.

However, in a delicious twist of irony, Todd has prevented Claridge from making a potentially explosive debut at the Bescot tomorrow.

"I haven't been overly happy for the last six months," said Claridge.

"I don't feel as though I was given enough opportunities. So I find it a bit strange that I was classed as not good enough to play for Bradford, but I am not allowed to play for another team against them.

"I started 12 games this year and scored four goals in my first six games before being left out. Work that one out if you can."

It is clear Claridge's treatment at Valley Parade still rankles with the experienced striker and Broadhurst wants him to use his anger as a catalyst for Walsall's revival.

"He is very fired up. I was quite excited after talking to him and his enthusiasm is infectious," said Broadhurst.

"All he wants to do is play football and he felt he should have played more often at Bradford after his goals to games ratio.

"Colin Todd said that I wouldn't have a fitter player at my club and his goalscoring record is terrific.

"It is like having an 18-year-old at the club with the brain of a 39-year-old.

"He looks in better nick now than when he was at Birmingham ten years ago and I am sure he will be a big hit.

"Like Paul Devlin, he is capable of scoring goals on his own and in a team that isn't creating many chances, that is vital."

With Broadhurst's long-term future as Walsall manager far from secure, it is a brave decision to sign Claridge.

The former Birmingham and Wolves striker has experience in the manager's hot-seat of his own at Portsmouth, Weymouth and Millwall; this would lead to nervous managers opting not to sign Claridge but the trenchant Broadhurst has no need to look over his shoulder.

The effervescent Claridge insists he has returned to the West Midlands with only one thought in his mind - playing football.

"Kevan has been straight down the line with me and that is why I chose Walsall ahead of four other clubs," confirmed Claridge.

"It has been difficult for me, as you don't want to speak out of turn in case people get the wrong idea.

"At times I was frightened to say anything but Kevan has said he wants me to get involved with the younger players and use my experience to help them.

"People can think what they like, but I am just here to play football. I have tried being a player/manager and it is impossible.

"I want to concentrate on playing and hopefully earn a deal. However, talk is cheap and I don't want any favours."