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WHITNEY EXPECTING DIFFICULT BOLTON TEST

16 September 2016

Saddlers host league leaders tomorrow...

Walsall manager Jon Whitney is expecting a difficult game against League One table-toppers Bolton this weekend. 

The Trotters, who were relegated from the Championship last term, have made a flying start to the new season and remain unbeaten after seven matches. 

Phil Parkinson’s side are likely to pose a stern test, but Whitney is confident that if Walsall perform like they did in the first-half against Bristol Rovers then they can cause them problems, too. 

“It will be difficult because of the way Phil’s teams play,” said Whitney. “They do it well – that’s why they’re top of the league and unbeaten. 

“They’re a big club who will be looking to bounce back after relegation and they’re a big threat aerially. 

“Phil knows how to win games in this league, but if we can play like we did in the first half against Bristol Rovers, and correct a few things, then we can be a test for them. 

“We need to keep encouraging the players and keep believing in our system. 

“If we can keep the same players and the same nucleus of the squad, then we can hopefully get more consistent and produce better performances for longer periods of the game.” 

Walsall are winless in six heading into tomorrow’s match, but Whitney insists results will soon improve. 

“It hurts me and everyone else when we don’t get results,” he said. “Of course we want to be top of the league and it was great last year to be where we were. 

“I know eventually with this group, it will click. It’s not through a lack of energy or work-ethic. 

"There is no player here who shirks away from anything, or portions blame on to anyone else, and that’s why I ask the fans to be just patient. 

“It’s an honest group, they make honest mistakes. They take pride in the Walsall shirt and deserve a bit more time to gel. 

“The way we play takes time. We’re a technical, footballing team and we’ve got a philosophy that we want to stick to. 

“Of course we want winning football but we have to understand that it takes time for things to develop. Eventually this group will get stronger, I’ve got 100% belief in that.” 

Isaiah Osbourne and James O’Connor could both return after missing the last few matches due to thigh and hamstring injuries respectively. 

Andreas Makris will be assessed after coming off against Bristol Rovers through illness, while Flo Cuvelier is out with an Achilles problem.

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