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Whitney: rested senior players should be fit for Bury

29 July 2017

Manager Jon Whitney is confident that the senior players he rested for today’s friendly at Lincoln City will be fit for next weekend’s trip to Bury.

The Saddlers kick off the 2017/18 campaign in less than seven days at Gigg Lane, and have one final friendly for the younger players at Rushall Olympic on Tuesday night.

With Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Sincil Bank coming just three days after a home friendly against West Bromwich Albion, and with several knocks picked up in the latter, Whitney opted to rest several senior players at Lincoln.

The likes of Joe Edwards, Luke Leahy and James Wilson were not risked - although Edwards did come on as a substitute - and Whitney says the side will benefit from that approach at Bury next weekend.

“When we booked (the friendly) we were hoping we could play our team that we’d be starting (at Bury) with,” said Whitney.

“With Wednesday night as well, the two-day turnaround was a little too tight for some of the lads and it was a little too risky to play them again today.

“We had to look after a few of them today. We worked really hard on Thursday and Friday and rested a few of them. 

“James Wilson got a nasty knock, Joe Edwards got a kick on his foot, Luke Leahy got a whack and Flo Cuvelier got a whack.

“We couldn’t really play our strongest team but it was still a competitive game. It was good for some of the younger lads to come in and stake a claim, and I thought there were a couple of things to learn for a few of them.

“You think of Callum Cockerill-Mollett, who is still an 18-year-old kid and he is playing against a good, physical League Two team who I’m sure will push again this year. 

“As an exercise it was beneficial and I’m quite happy we’ve come through unscathed.”

Whitney was also pleased to see Lee Beevers recognised for his impressive career, with the friendly game also Beevers’ testimonial match.

The 33-year-old received a guard of honour onto the pitch ahead of the game before coming onto the pitch in the 90th minute, despite having ruptured his patella tendon, to a standing ovation from both sets of supporters.

Beevers made 40 appearances for The Saddlers during the 2011/12 season.

“It’s always nice for a player and it’s very unfortunate with his injury,” Whitney said of Beevers.

“I know it’s a bad one as well with his patella tendon but it’s really nice of Lincoln to put this game on for him.

“He was a good professional when he was with us.”

Whitney was also pleased for Simeon Jackson to get a goal ahead of the new season, with the Canadian international opening the scoring four minutes after the restart.

“It’s not an official game and yet as a striker you want to get your first goal, so good for Simeon,” Whitney said.

“I thought he worked really well as well. His energy was excellent today.

“We’re disappointed with two set pieces being conceded but some of my young players, I’m sure, when I show them (the game) back will learn from it and try to correct a few mistakes that led to them.

“They’re a young team who have got to learn out there on the pitch. It’s a tough world sometimes but they’ll get better from it.”

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