Centre-back feeling more confident...
Defender Matt Preston feels he has learned a great deal from his first consistent season of first-team football.
The 22-year-old has featured prominently for the Saddlers this term, appearing 32 times in all competitions.
And the Birmingham-born centre-back, who had made only 14 senior appearances before this campaign, believes playing regularly has aided his development.
“I feel I’ve become more confident because I’ve played more consistent first-team football, whereas in previous years I was in and out of the side,” said Preston.
“I take confidence from that and I’ve gained more experience too. I’ve learned so much in a year.
“You play against certain players and you learn what they’re good at and what they’re bad at, and hopefully you can use those things to become a better player.”
Preston is expected to retain his starting place for tomorrow’s derby clash with struggling Shrewsbury.
Although the Saddlers sit mid-table in League One, the youngster says the squad are fully motivated to get three points.
“It’s all about mindset at this stage of the season,” he added.
“We haven’t got anything to play for in terms of getting promoted and we can’t go down, but it’s about your personal motivation towards how you look at each game.
“For me personally, I hate losing. I don’t like conceding goals so losing is even worse.
“Every game we go into, we’ve got to keep our focus. We want to win and we’ve got to keep our standards high.”
Jon Whitney’s men were held to an entertaining 1-1 draw with Oxford last time out.
Andreas Makris netted the Saddlers’ goal – his first for the club – and Preston admits the squad were delighted to see him get off the mark.
“We all felt he deserved it,” Preston commented. “He works hard every day in training and it was good to see him get his reward.
“Everyone felt that relief for him which is why we all celebrated with him.”