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O'CONNOR: HARD WORK IS KEY

28 February 2017

Defender praises Saddlers' work ethic...

James O’Connor has praised his team’s work ethic as the Saddlers go in search of a fifth straight home win against Chesterfield tonight. 

The Saddlers have been impressive on home soil of late, and Jon Whitney's men now have a chance to continue this run with two matches in a week at the Banks's Stadium. 

O’Connor said: “We defend and attack as a team, I think that’s been the key. 

“All this talk about a back four or a back five, I think it’s more about a team shape, a team ethic, and it’s been first class for the last four to six weeks. 

“Just because we’ve had a defeat we can’t just throw all of the good work out of the window, we’ve got to keep doing it.” 

The Saddlers have been stubborn defensively in recent weeks and went four hours without conceding before Lyle Taylor’s crucial goal for AFC Wimbledon on Saturday. 

But O’Connor is happy with how the team are progressing and insists we will be taking the positives into tonight, despite the defeat. 

“We really have to go in full of confidence because we’ve been on a decent run and we’ve got to keep building on it,” said O’Connor. 

“Goals change games and they got a fortunate one. It was a kick in the teeth for us but we have to take the positives.”

O’Connor once again played alongside Matt Preston and Eoghan O’Connell in defence, and the 32-year-old is enjoying being the voice of experience in the Walsall back three. 

He said: “I’ve had that over my career, playing with more experienced players. It’s always been really helpful. 

“So being at that different end of your career you realise that the smallest bits of advice, sometimes encouragement, sometimes having a go at someone, it can be positive.” 

The Saddlers defender has been playing centrally, with Preston and O’Connell either side of him, and he is relishing the role. 

O’Connor said: “I enjoy doing it. It’s one of those positions where you can see a lot of the game, you’ve got to read things and solve problems on the pitch. 

“I think having two other lads beside me who are intelligent players also helps, but you’ve got to talk to the players in front and your goalkeeper. 

“It’s another string to our bow to have a different system in our locker.”

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