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Club News


22 January 2016

Walsall won the reverse meeting 4-0 back in August...

Defender James O’Connor expects Saturday’s opponents Blackpool to be a different proposition from the side Walsall played earlier in the season.

The Saddlers beat Blackpool 4-0 back in August, thanks to Tom Aldred’s own goal, Sam Mantom’s header and a brace from Romaine Sawyers.

But O’Connor believes the Tangerines, who hammered Scunthorpe 5-0 in their last outing, will pose a much sterner test this time around.

“It’ll be a completely different game to when we played them earlier in the season,” said the centre-back, who has played 31 times this term.

“It was a sunny day and a great pitch but they’ve progressed a lot since then.

“They were rock bottom at the time but they’ve brought themselves up the table and have got a lot of different personnel in the team.

“It’ll be a difficult game like every other League One game.

“It’ll be a test and we’ll keep getting these different tests between now and the end of the season.”

O’Connor has been one of Walsall’s most assured and consistent performers this term.

And the 31-year-old says he is “enjoying” his football with the Saddlers, having now put his injury concerns behind him.

“Before I came to the club, I missed pretty much a whole season with a thigh injury,” said O’Connor, who joined Walsall from Bristol City in July 2014.

“So I came here with doubts over my own fitness, and when that’s the case, your confidence takes a bit of a knock. You don’t like to admit it but it does.

“But I’m enjoying my football again.

“I think when you’re enjoying it and you’re fit, it shows in your performances.

“I’m enjoying my football and I’m pleased to help the side do well.”

Another man who has enjoyed an impressive individual campaign is goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, who has kept 11 clean sheet this season.

“He’s good at what he does,” O’Connor added.

“He’s a positive, front foot keeper who likes to come for things. I like that personally.

“It’s up to us to adapt our game when we’re defending so he can help us with certain things.

"You see that at set pieces, he comes for a lot of things to punch or catch.

“Hopefully he can keep improving with us and who knows how far he can go.”

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