Walsall appoint Neil Woods as head of youth

Neil Woods

Woods previously managed Grimsby where he spent eight years as a player

Walsall have appointed former Grimsby manager Neil Woods as the club's new head of youth.

The 44-year-old, who was sacked as boss at Blundell Park in February , has signed a two-year deal with the League One side.

"We feel sure Neil can continue to nurture the excellent young talent we have," Saddlers chief executive Stefan Gamble told the club website.

Woods added: "I love the ethos here and am delighted to be part of it."

The former Rangers and Doncaster Rovers player, who spent six years as head of youth at Grimsby before taking over first-team affairs, continued: "I've been very impressed with (manager) Dean Smith's vision for the club.

Neil has the passion and the drive needed to succeed in this role

Dean Smith Walsall manager

"I spent nine years in a similar role at Grimsby and during that time we sold over £600,000 worth of talent that came through the ranks.

"The Barcelona way is what football is all about and I will be encouraging the lads to get the ball down and play.

"I aim to give the youngsters here thorough preparation and knowledge so they can progress into the first-team and stay there."

Walsall boss Smith added: "Neil has the passion and the drive needed to succeed in this role and I'm sure he will be a valuable member of the coaching staff."