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O'CONNOR: CONSISTENCY KEY TO PROMOTION PUSH

20 November 2015

The Saddlers face Sheffield United tomorrow...

Centre-back James O’Connor believes consistency will be the key to success this season.

The Saddlers are third in League One, with a game in hand on most clubs, and have lost only twice in 16 league matches, accumulating an impressive 32 points.

And O’Connor, who has been one of our standout players this term, says we must now maintain our impressive form to stay in promotion contention.

“I’ve said before that there’s always been the potential to do well here,” said O’Connor.

“We’ve got a lot of good young players and a few more experienced lads, it’s been about getting the balance and that consistency.

“So far we’ve had a good level of consistency, the key is to keep it up until the end of the season.”

It’s been Walsall’s best start to a third-tier campaign in 15 years – but the central defender says no one is getting carried away.

“We’ve made a good start but we’re all aware that that’s all it is,” he added.

“All people remember is where you finish in May. We’ll keep doing the same things we’ve been doing so far and keep trying to improve.

“But if we can keep the same kind of ratio that we’ve got at the moment (two points per game), then we’ll be right up there at the end of the season.”



The Saddlers host promotion-rivals Sheffield United this weekend, in what will be our first league match in three weeks.

“It seems like an absolute age since our last game,” said O’Connor.

“Hopefully we can use the break to our advantage, and those players who had niggles, they will have settled down, and we can come back refreshed and ready to kick on again this Saturday.”

Nigel Adkins’ Blades are one of League One’s promotion favourites – but O’Connor says Walsall shouldn’t fear anyone.

“To a neutral, they’re probably one of the biggest sides in the division,” he admitted.

“Without trying to sound boring, it’s just another game for us, but one we’re trying to win.

“There’s no one in this division who we really fear.

“In the past, that’s quite an easy thing to say – a bit of cliché to sound good. But that’s how we feel at the minute.”

A large crowd is expected for the Blades’ visit – and O’Connor believes the Saddlers fans could have a significant part to play.

“They definitely help,” he said.

“The lads spoke about it after the Gillingham game because the crowd really got behind us at 2-0 down – it really, really helped us.

“The way we finished the game when it was 2-2, last year it would probably have petered out and ended as a draw.

“But we went for jugular, the crowd got behind us and they probably got us over the finish line.”

O’Connor missed our FA Cup tie with Fleetwood due to a calf injury but is expected to be fit for tomorrow’s match.

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