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Whitney happy to have a selection headache

7 September 2017

Jon Whitney is happy to have a selection headache ahead of the Saddlers’ trip to Bristol Rovers.

With Shaun Donnellan away on international duty, Kory Roberts came into the side and produced a solid performance in a 2-1 win over Plymouth.

West Brom loanee Donnellan is available this weekend and Whitney must now decide who gets the nod at centre-half if he sticks with a 3-4-1-2 formation.

“Kory did really well,” said the 46-year-old. “When he’s played in Under-23 games he’s played in that position so it wasn’t that new to him.

“He understood his role and responsibilities in the centre of a three. He’s got undoubted ability and it’s about when we play him and bring him out.

“I can see him being a regular in the years to come, how soon that happens will depend on him and how well he keeps playing.

“I’ve got Shaun coming back so it’s a good headache for me to have this weekend.”

Whitney also faces a selection dilemma up front, with Tyler Roberts back in contention after returning from internationals.

Roberts, also on loan from West Brom, scored one and created another on his debut as Walsall came from three goals down to draw with Bradford.

Deadline-day signing Daniel Agyei made an instant impact himself the following weekend, netting 23 minutes into our win over the Pilgrims, while Amadou Bakayoko has also impressed in recent weeks.

With Simeon Jackson waiting in the wings, Whitney knows he has some difficult decisions to make but is pleased to have plenty of attacking options at his disposal.

“It’s a nice headache,” Whitney added. “The energy we want from the front two or three, they will be used and will tire at stages in the game.

“That’s what we want – we don’t want to gradually feel our way into the game, we want to hit it running and try to empty the tanks as quickly as we can.

“They may give us a bit less defensively but if they can occupy an opponents’ back three or four, that’s their main role.

“Everyone is fighting for places and it’s a nice problem for me to have. We’ll have to leave some really strong players on the bench but it will benefit us in the long run.”

Bristol Rovers have had an indifferent start to the season, having won two and lost three of their opening five league games.

Whitney is wary of Rovers’ attacking threat but says his side are in good spirits heading into the match.

“They’ve got some forward players who can set that place alight and they’ll be really vocal with their home support,” he commented.

“They like to play with a real high energy and put you under a lot of pressure.

“But I think we can all agree that we’re confident going into this one. The lads have been brilliant and I don’t think any team would like to play Walsall at the moment.”


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