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WHITNEY: INTERNATIONAL BREAK COMES AT A GOOD TIME

24 March 2017

Boss feels the two-week break could help his side...

Jon Whitney believes the international break has come at a good time for the Saddlers. 

We were originally due to host relegation-threatened Port Vale this weekend but the match had to be rearranged because of international call-ups. 

The postponement means we will have gone two weeks without playing by the time we return to action against Bradford on 1st April – the first of seven games in a hectic final month. 

But with injuries to centre-back Eoghan O’Connell and playmaker Erhun Oztumer – who has sustained a high ankle sprain - Whitney believes the enforced break could benefit his side. 

“It’s worked out OK for us,” said Whitney. “We’ve had a run of games and two little niggles. 

“You never know, if Eoghan responds really well he might have a chance [for Bradford] so on this occasion having an international break has helped us a little bit. 

“It gives us a chance to regroup and see where we’re at. 

“I’ve taken it as a chance to reflect on the season so far and I’m also going to give the players some targets for the remainder of the season as well.” 

The Saddlers relinquished a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 at play-off chasing Southend last week. 

All three goals came from set-pieces and Whitney says his team will be doing plenty of dead-ball practice in training next week to avoid a repeat. 

“It’s no secret that we’re going to concentrate on set-pieces,” the 46-year-old added. 

“We need to be hungrier to keep the ball out of the net and start enjoying set-pieces like I used to when I played. 

“We’re going to look at it when everyone’s here but it’s important not to get too down about it because in general play we’re OK. 

“But that’s where the frustration comes, because set-pieces are just as important. 

“It’s about a willingness to keep it out of the net and we’re conceding too many from set-pieces so we need to work on that and improve.”

And with seven games of the League One season remaining, Whitney insists there will be no let-up from his side. 

“We’ve got seven games to finish as high as we can and the targets I’ll give them will be driven towards that,” the boss commented. 

“We’ve still got a hell of a lot to play for – pride first of all, because you want to win everything you do. I want winners in my team.”

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