Boss targeting cup progression...Jon Whitney says he will make changes to his Walsall team for tonight’s EFL Cup first-round tie against League Two Yeovil Town.
The Saddlers began the 2016/17 League One season in style with a comfortable 3-1 victory over newly-promoted AFC Wimbledon at the weekend.
Whitney, though, has promised changes this evening as he bids to give more squad members game time.
And although the league is the priority, the 45-year-old is determined to reach round two.
“I love games and it’s always nice to have a cup tie,” said Whitney. “It’s great for me as well that I have a fully fit squad.
“I will rest players because it was always my plan as in a lot of the positions, it’s a really intense workout.
“It’s still early in the season and we are still trying to develop fitness levels so it’s hard to play two games so quickly.
“Against Wimbledon, I had to leave players off the bench like Maz Kouhyar and Liam Kinsella who are really fighting and chomping at the bit. They’re players who show all the qualities I love.
“They will be needed because we have a lot of games. Tuesday is a chance for them to come into the fold if they can prove they are ready.”
Darren Way’s Yeovil were also victorious in their season opener, beating Notts County 2-0 at Huish Park thanks to first-half strikes from Kevin Dawson and Otis Kahn.
And Whitney insists his side won’t be taking the Glovers lightly.
“We will approach it the same we do as any other game,” he said. “It’s about us. We will analyse them and we will look for some chinks in their armour – areas we can take advantage of.
“They’ve got some good players and are well organised, but you can see from the Wimbledon game that we can create. We can create chances in the final third, mix it up and go a little bit more direct if we need to.
“We want to entertain - not just with pretty football but we have got a bit of resilience about us. We showed a lot of passion and discipline against Wimbledon – and that is what fans want to see.”
Whitney was pleased with his side’s performance in the opening-day victory over Neal Ardley's side, and was full of praise for how they handled the Dons' physical and direct approach.
“It’s always nice to win as you want to get those points on the board as quickly as you can,” he added.
“We won’t get carried away but it’s nice to get the three points. The way we did it was really pleasing.
"We stuck to the game plan as we knew what to expect from Wimbledon because they were a threat.
“But if teams think we are just going to keel over when we are physically threatened, well you can see we can handle it, battle and put a shift in.
“And if we do that, then we’ve got the quality to then come up with the goods.
“Erhun Oztumer and Simeon Jackson will take the accolades for their goals, but I think the whole team can credit for a really good performance, as it was a team effort.”