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2 August 2013

Downing raring to get started...

SADDLERS' defender, Paul Downing, is looking forward to getting back to business on Saturday after a gruelling pre-season.

The former West Bromwich Albion youngster became a regular figure in the heart of the Walsall defence last season and admits that he needs to stay on his toes in order to assure his name is on the team sheet for the visit of Tranmere Rovers.

"I can't wait for the season to start and to get back into action," he said. "It's been a good pre-season, everybody is fit and raring to go and trying to impress the Gaffer for a starting place on Saturday.

"We haven't been told who will be starting yet and that's credit to the hard work everyone's put in over the summer as the Gaffer has decisions to make all over the pitch.

"Personally all I can do is continue to keep my head down and work hard because I'm fighting with two experienced players in Dean Holden and Buts [Andy Butler]."

The Saddlers have made six signings over the summer and 21 year-old Downing singled out the praises of goalkeeper, Richard O'Donnell, who joined on a free transfer after being released from Chesterfield.

"Richard has settled in well and has looked good in pre-season" Downing admitted. "He's a very good, commanding goalkeeper which we've seen in games and in training so I'm expecting big things from him."

Tomorrow's opponents Tranmere crumbled at the final hurdle last season following a fantastic start. After being in the top six for the majority of the campaign, a poor run of form saw Ronnie Moore's men finish 11th.

The Saddlers form took a different contrast having lost just twice in 2013 and Downing is optimistic of another eventful season, but knows the opening day test against Ronnie Moore's side will be physically challenging.

"Tranmere had a really good start last year, and they are going to provide a really tough battle which we will need to contend with," he went on. "We were slightly disappointed that we didn't make the play-offs last season, but we ended in a great run of form and we want to emulate that and hopefully we can achieve another great season."

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