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Whitney: Banks's atmosphere has been electric

31 August 2017

Jon Whitney wants the Banks's Stadium rocking once more as we host Plymouth Argyle in our next League One fixture tomorrow (3pm).

Our last two home games have seen The Saddlers come from behind to beat Oldham Athletic 2-1 through a late Erhun Oztumer strike, before last weekend's stirring comeback from 3-0 down to take a point against Bradford City.

The Banks's Stadium was electric late on for both of those games, with the crowd spurring the side on to late, point-winning goals courtesy of Oztumer and Amadou Bakayoko.

And Whitney wants that feel-good factor to continue as Derek Adams' side visit us on Saturday (3pm kick-off).

"The last few home games are what we’re in football for," said Whitney. 

"The atmosphere has been electric. We’re on the crest of a wave at the minute and I think it’s important that we take it into next weekend.

"For long periods of games we’ve dominated and played some attractive, high-energy football and looked solid as well.

"There’s a really good energy about the place at the moment so it’s important we carry on into this home game."

The Saddlers will be without West Bromwich Albion loanees Shaun Donnellan and Tyler Roberts, who have been called up for international duty with Ireland U21s and Wales U21s respectively.

Right-back Liam Kinsella is also with the Irish U21s while Callum Cockerill-Mollett has joined their U18s, and Maz Kouhyar is with the Afghanistan national side.

Striker Mitch Candlin is training with England’s U18s at St George’s Park but looks set to be available for selection against Plymouth, boosting Whitney’s striking options in Roberts’ absence.

Whitney reiterated that he wants to continue the momentum from the positive performances put in by his side in recent weeks, which is why he opted not to postpone the fixture at the Banks’s Stadium on Saturday as has often happened in years gone by.

And he wants as many players as possible to give him a selection headache by taking any opportunities that may come their way against Plymouth.

“I thought over the last couple of years when we’ve had the international breaks, it’s upset our rhythm quite a lot,” said Whitney.

“Sometimes it’s nice to come away from the game but we’re here to play football and “It’s an opportunity for some players to stake a claim - not just for starting but for the bench as well. 

“You control the controllables. Call-ups are call-ups and having so many young players on the international scene is something we should be proud of. I trust my players and my squad.”

Argyle arrive at the Banks’s Stadium on the back of a 4-0 defeat at home to Scunthorpe United last weekend, with midfielder Antoni Sarcevic sent off early on.

But Whitney believes that scoreline was not reflective of Plymouth’s overall play, and pointed to the threats the Pilgrims possess in both boxes as he expects a tough afternoon at the Banks’s.

“They had an undeserved 4-0 deficit against Scunthorpe - Sarcevic got sent off which affected it,” Whitney said of this weekend’s opponents. 

“They still created chances second half as well and played the game in the right way, with tempo, get it wide early and into the box. They get the ball into the box and have a few lads who can cause issues. 

“They’re very organised behind a 4-1-4-1 which they can flip to a 4-3-3. I’m expecting tough opposition but isn’t every team that we play against? 

“We’ve got to concentrate on ourselves and the things we’ve done right over the last couple of weeks.”


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