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29 October 2015

The Saddlers have another top-of-the-table clash this weekend...

Dean Smith believes Walsall's recent victory over Burton should give his players a psychological boost ahead of this weekend's visit of leaders Gillingham.

The Saddlers recorded a 2-0 win against Burton three weeks ago to leapfrog the Brewers at the League One summit.

Walsall, now in second place, face another top-of-the-table clash against the Gills this Saturday – knowing a win will take us above our opponents.

And Smith believes the experience from the Burton game should stand us in good stead for the Gillingham match.

“It’s nice that three weeks after the Burton game - were it was a challenge to go top - we’ve got the same again at our place,” said Smith.

“There’s excitement because of how we’re playing but it is just another game.

“There’s the carrot that if we win we go top of the league again, just like there was against Burton.

“The Burton game should help us as we’ve already handled that kind of pressure before and the lads know what is expected and what to do.

“But Gillingham will be a tough game - they’re up there for a reason.

“Ourselves, Burton and Gillingham are, to many people, the surprise candidates to be up there at the moment.

“But we all deserve to be there because we’ve had really good results and performances.

“I’m looking forward to Saturday’s game and hopefully we can replicate what we did against Burton.”

Gillingham are likely to pose a stern test of our promotion credentials this weekend.

The Gills are top of League One with 31 points from 15 matches and have developed a useful habit of scoring crucial late goals.

“There’ve been many times this season were our supporters have thought we were going top and then Gillingham have scored late on," said Smith.

“We’ve been late scorers a number of times this season as well, which just shows the fitness levels of both teams are very good.

“They’ve got Rory Donnelly and Bradley Dack who have been scoring goals and they’ve got lots of goals in their team.

“I’ve not locked horns yet with (manager) Justin Edinburgh but he’s a lad I know quite well.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for what he did at Rushden & Diamonds, then Newport County and now Gillingham.

“We’ve always had a really challenging game against Gillingham whenever we’ve played them.”

Smith confirmed that left-back Rico Henry will be available for Saturday’s match – but goalkeeper Neil Etheridge will be assessed tomorrow.

“Neil will have his stitches out today (Thursday) and we will assess how he is in training tomorrow to see if he’s competing for a place in the squad," Smith added.

"Sam Mantom’s recovery is coming along but he’s still a few weeks away. He’s got a boot on still which is keeping the swelling down and helping the heeling process.

"With Isaiah Osbourne, we think he might need a flush out of his knee. It should speed up his recovery because it’s been quite slow with the infection he got after the knee injury."

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