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SAM'S THE MAN FOR DOWNING

9 November 2012

Defender delighted to see Mantom saddle up...

YOUNG Saddlers' defender, Paul Downing, has expressed his delight at the recapture of Sam Mantom on loan from West Bromwich Albion, by admitting his arrival will spark a new lease of confidence into the side.

The pair are no strangers to each other as they progressed through the youth ranks at The Baggies before Downing made the short switch to the Banks’s Stadium in the summer and the 20 year-old is glad to be reunited with his former team-mate.

“Sam’s going to be a very good signing for us,” said Downing. “I've known him from an early age and I think he is a quality footballer.

“He did very well here last season and I'm sure he’s hoping to do the same this time around.

"He’ll give the players and fans a massive lift by giving us that little something different in the midfield area, hopefully starting on Saturday when we take on Swindon."

Mantom enjoyed a successful first loan spell with The Saddlers last season, scoring three goals in 13 games, and the likeable Downing spoke highly of the midfielder for the part he played in helping him make the decision to join The Saddlers over the summer.

“I know Sam very well; we've progressed up the ranks before being offered pro-contracts together,” added the central defender. "We're close and get on really well off-the-pitch as well, and he is a person I respect quite highly.

“I spoke to him before I joined and he had nothing but good things to say about the club and the gaffer, so he was a big part in me coming to Walsall.”

Whilst discussing the latest Saddlers' recruit, the former Shrewsbury Town and Barnet loan man also took time to reflect on his personal progression which has seen him make four appearances so far this season.

He put in impressive displays against Sheffield United and Bury in place of Dean Holden and despite reverting back to the role of substitute, Downing refuses to feel hard done by after losing his place to the experienced defender.

“I feel I'm doing reasonably well," he went on. "I'm working hard in training and trying to impress the gaffer the best I can when given the opportunity.

“It is slightly disappointing that I haven’t had the chance to carry on my run following those two games, but Dean [Holden] and Buts [Andy Butler] have built a good, solid partnership together, so it’s only natural they got back together.

“They’re both experienced and they are always helping me with tips and pointers, so it’s up to me to take their knowledge on board in order to become a better player.”

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