Boss hoping to build on three successive away wins...Walsall manager, Dean Smith, is relishing the prospect of facing local rivals Coventry in Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash at the Banks’s Stadium.
Smith’s Saddlers have made an impressive start to the 2015/16 campaign and are currently third in League One, having accumulated seven points from their opening three matches.
Tony Mowbray’s Coventry have also begun with a flourish and sit top, boasting the division’s only 100% winning record. With a large crowd expected for the Sky Blues’ visit, Smith is hoping to build on a run of three successive away victories with a positive result on home soil.
“It’s been a really good week for the football club,” said Smith. “I don’t think there have been too many times, certainly during my five years here, that we’ve won three away games in a week.
“But it’s important now that we get the performance right at home. In the first game of the season (against Oldham) we probably only got half an hour right. At the time, the system we were playing was probably in its infancy and the lads were just getting used to it.
“Saturday will be different; it’s a derby, Coventry will be bringing a lot of supporters and there’ll be a really good atmosphere with both teams having a decent start. Hopefully we can put in a good performance for our home fans.”
Jim O’Brien’s late goal maintained Coventry’s perfect start in League One with a thrilling 3-2 success at home to Crewe on Tuesday evening – and Smith is anticipating a stern test.
“They’ve started very well but I’m not surprised because they’ve got really good players there and a very good manager,” Smith commented. “Armstrong, on loan from Newcastle, has been excellent so far, scoring goals. Jim O’Brien, RubenLameiras, John Fleck and Marcus Tudgay have also scored and they’ve got quality players at the football club.
“Tony (Mowbray)’s well known and well respected around this area. He did a good job at Middlesbrough and West Brom, and now he’s doing well at Coventry. He’s building a really good team and they’ve had a good start to the season. One thing is for sure, with the way Tony likes to play, and the way we like to play, it’s going to be a really good football game.
"We know how tough it’s going to be and we’re going to have to be at our best, but we believe that we’ve got quality players as well.”
Saddlers left-back Andy Taylor went off injured in the midweek win at Rochdale, but Smith is expecting him to be fit.
“He received a whack below his shin - it was a good, fair tackle but he should be okay,” said Smith. “He’s doing a recovery today and he’ll train tomorrow.
“Everyone else is fighting fit. It’s one of those times where everyone wants to be in the squad and in the team. I’m having to make tough decisions on who to put in the squad, let alone the team.”