Jon Whitney has challenged his Saddlers team to “push on” from last season and be competitive in every game.
After finishing 14th last term, Walsall begin the new 2017/18 League One campaign away to Lee Clark’s big-spending Bury tomorrow afternoon, kick-off 3.00pm.
And Whitney wants his side to be a test for whoever they come up against.
“We expect to compete in every game,” said the 46-year-old. “We want to push on from where we finished last year and I’m sure we can with this group.
“We can really be competitive this year and make sure we give everyone a game.
“Everyone has got to fight to get something from us and that’s what we’ve drilled into the players. We have to be ruthless, quite resilient and have a bit of quality as well.”
Our first opponents Bury have brought in no fewer than 16 new player this summer.
And while Whitney admits the Shakers may be something of an unknown quantity, he says the Saddlers will be ready for the task in hand.
“You’ve got to concentrate on yourself and make sure your shop’s in order the first few games,” he added.
“I went up to Salford to watch a few of their players play and I understand the players they’ve brought in.
“You look at the way Lee does things over his time previously, he played a three towards the end at Bury, a four at Kilmarnock.
“He’s played different formations but what you do is concentrate on the players he’s brought in.
“We can watch them so we know about their players. We’ll be concentrating on what we do and see if they can handle us.
“We’ll respect them and have an idea individually of what their players can do and what their strengths and weaknesses are.”
Whitney also confirmed that former Nottingham Forest striker Matty Fryatt, who started his career with the Saddlers, is back training with the club.
The 31-year-old was released by Forest earlier this summer after three injury-plagued years at the City Ground and had a trial with Burton last month.
And the ex-Leicester man has opted to return to his old stomping ground to build up his strength and fitness.
“Matty has come in and trained with us this week,” said Whitney. “He has had an incredible career and his career can still go on. He can still achieve a lot of things.
“His affinity with the club is strong and he likes the environment and the way we do things. He enjoys the group and the team ethos.
“He just wants to have a nice vibrant place to get his fitness levels back and then get out onto the pitch.
“He is a player we are considering. But he we need to get him back fit and get him enjoying his football again.”