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SAM READY TO PICK OFF CHERRIES

17 January 2013

Midfield man aims high...

SADDLERS’ midfielder, Sam Mantom, has set a challenge for his team-mates to ‘aim high and believe’ as the club prepare to take on AFC Bournemouth at the Banks’s Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 3.00pm).

With The Saddlers sitting top of the form table having won five of the last six games, the match sees two of the league's in-form sides go head-to-head, and local lad Mantom is relishing the battle with Eddie Howe’s men, but is well aware of the threat The Cherries possess.

“We’re fully expecting a very tough game,” said the 20 year-old. “They've got one hell of a squad down there and the manager's gone back in and got them flying again.

“It’s got all the elements to be a cracking game and I'm looking forward to this game as much as any other.

“It’s a chance for everyone to continue from last weekend at Preston and show that we can be as much of a threat as they are.”

The Saddlers have had a mixed run of form so far this season, having started brightly before going on a miserable 16-game winless run, which has since become a forgotten memory with Dean Smith’s side sitting five points from the play-offs and boasting an unbeaten record in 2013.

And former England Under-17 international Mantom declared confidence was always high amongst the players and suggests the club are on course to shrug off their early-season critics by climbing further up the table.

“Confidence has been high since I came back on loan,” the midfielder admitted. “A few weeks ago, nobody expected us to be where we are now but we've turned it around and to be five points from the play-offs at this stage of the season is a great achievement for us.

“It’s every players dream to get promoted and knowing that were in with a sniff, it’s good for morale within the football club really.

“We’re not going to get carried away; there are a few teams with games in hand on us but if we continue the way we've been in recent weeks, then there’s no reason why we can’t get our hopes up.”

Since joining the club, originally on loan, Mantom has become a firm fans favourite making 11 appearances that included his first goal of the season away at Leyton Orient. Now a permanent fixture with The Saddlers, the former Albion man says it was an easy decision to cross the Black Country divide.

“It was a sensible decision to make, I'm settled in the area and the Gaffer knows my game but the lads here are brilliant as well.

“I firmly believe this club has the potential to go places and it’s great to get games now, but looking forward it’s a big season for me next year.

“I'm at that age where I need to establish myself in the first-team and kick-start my career and this is the perfect place to do that.”

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