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Former Ireland U21 striker makes League Two switch

Conor Wilkinson has left Leyton Orient to sign a two-year deal with League Two rivals Walsall.

Conor Wilkinson is congratulated by Josh Cullen and Jack Byrne after scoring for Ireland in an U21 international against Lithuania.
Conor Wilkinson is congratulated by Josh Cullen and Jack Byrne after scoring for Ireland in an U21 international against Lithuania.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

WALSALL HAVE COMPLETED the signing of former Republic of Ireland U21 international Conor Wilkinson on a two-year deal.

Wilkinson swaps one League Two club for another, having rejected the offer of a new contract at Leyton Orient.

The striker is making the move after scoring 20 goals in 74 appearances since joining Orient in the summer of 2019.

“I’ve had a fair few offers in the window but this one came to me and made a lot of sense for me,” Wilkinson said this afternoon.

Although born in London, the 26-year-old represented the Republic of Ireland at underage levels due to qualifying via his Dublin-born mother.

He featured regularly for the U21s under Noel King, who had “high hopes” for Wilkinson following his international debut at the grade.

His last U21 cap came in a defeat to Slovenia in March 2016, when he started up front in a team that also included current senior internationals Callum O’Dowda, Jack Byrne and Darragh Lenihan.

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leyton-orient-v-cheltenham-town-sky-bet-league-two-the-breyer-group-stadium Wilkinson at Leyton Orient. Source: PA

Wilkinson made his league debut for Bolton Wanderers in the Championship during the 2014-15 season, but he spent much of his time with the Trotters out on loan. 

Spells at Gillingham and Dagenham & Redbridge were followed by the move to Leyton Orient two years ago. He now links up with a club that recently appointed former West Ham United, Bolton and Portsmouth player Matt Taylor as their new head coach. 

“I’m extremely happy,” Taylor said of his first signing as Walsall boss. “He’s a player Jamie [Fullarton, technical director] and I have worked tirelessly hard, along with the rest of the club, to secure his signature and I feel it’s a real show of intent from the football club that we were able to compete for a player of Conor’s stature for Walsall.

“It gives me another level of excitement in terms of what Conor can bring into the team and to the football club. There are expectations on him to score goals – that’s what he’s been brought in for but I’m confident he can deal with that.”

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Paul Dollery

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