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Whitney wants momentum with Plymouth Argyle game going ahead despite call-ups

29 August 2017

Manager Jon Whitney has confirmed that he intends for next week’s fixture with Plymouth Argyle to go ahead despite several Saddlers players receiving international call-ups.

Liam Kinsella and West Bromwich Albion loanee Shaun Donnellan have been called up for international duty with Ireland’s U21s, with Callum Cockerill-Mollett meeting up with the Irish U19s.

Winger Maz Kouhyar has flown out to join up with the Afghanistan national side and Tyler Roberts, who netted on his debut, will be with the Welsh U21s this weekend.

But Whitney is keen for his side to take their current momentum - with Walsall unbeaten in three and mounting a superb comeback to draw 3-3 with Bradford City last weekend - into another game as quickly as possible.

“I want it on because I want momentum,” said Whitney.

“If I miss one or two players, that’s what the squad is for because it’s an opportunity for someone to take a chance.

“Liam Kinsella has gone with Shaun Donnellan, and Maz Kouhyar has gone to Afghanistan.

“Callum has gone to Ireland’s U19s and Tyler Roberts to the Welsh camp.

“We’ve got a lot of young players who are incredible talent but last year, sometimes, when we had the international breaks it stopped our rhythm a little bit.

“I think we can go forward with this momentum to next week and see if we can get some more points against Plymouth.”

Whitney was left thoroughly impressed with Roberts following his debut, a day after signing on loan from West Bromwich Albion until January.

Roberts powered a header past Colin Doyle on the hour mark to make it 3-2 against Bradford, before crossing in the equaliser which Amadou Bakayoko headed home with a stooping effort.

And Whitney believes Roberts’ performance in the second half, after coming on as a substitute, justified the manager’s patience in waiting for that loan opportunity to arise.

“I’ve watched him and that’s why I’ve been waiting so long to get the kid - he just lightens up places,” said Whitney.

“When he gets it he very rarely gives it away and for someone of his age to do that, it’s incredible ability.

“We’ve worked on some areas where he can improve - headers - and he gets his goal! It’s the first one in a couple of years that he’s scored with his head!”

One international who hasn’t been called up for international duty is Simeon Jackson, a regular for the Canadian national side.

But as Whitney explained, Jackson is in fact injured at present with a slight problem picked up in training last Wednesday.

“Simeon hasn’t been called up - he’s got a slight groin strain,” added Whitney.

“He’ll be back for next week but he’s got a slight injury and that’s why he wasn’t involved last Saturday.”


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