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Whitney looks for Saddlers to build on recent results heading to Wigan Athletic

28 September 2017

Walsall manager Jon Whitney will monitor the fitness of Luke Leahy, Flo Cuvelier and Simeon Jackson ahead of Saturday’s trip to Wigan Athletic.

Cuvelier and Jackson have missed games in recent weeks with knocks, while Leahy was substituted late on in our 2-2 draw with Charlton Athletic on Tuesday night at the Banks’s Stadium.

Leahy went down in the box under a challenge from Addicks keeper Ben Amos and could not continue, but will be monitored on Friday in the build-up to our visit to the DW Stadium.

Cuvelier and Jackson have had slight knocks, and Whitney says both will be fighting not just for a starting role, but for a spot in his 18-man squad.

Whitney rewarded the likes of Reece Flanagan, Liam Kinsella and Maz Kouhyar with places on the substitutes’ bench following impressive showings in the Checkatrade Trophy win against West Bromwich Albion U21s just over a week ago, with Kory Roberts also making the squad for Tuesday night’s victory over Charlton.

“We’ve got a few kicks but we’ll have a look at how they recover from the Tuesday night game before we pick a team,” said Whitney. 

“We’ll keep them simmering and we’ll see where we are.

“Flo has a slight niggle and Simeon had a slight one before the Checkatrade Trophy game against West Brom - so it’s just about getting back in now. 

“We had so many strong performances in that (West Brom) game that we rewarded them with a place on the bench and they’ve got to try to fight their way in - not just into the starting XI but into the 18.

“Luke just opened up his knee under a challenge from their keeper. He hoped he could carry on but it was just a bit sore. 

“It’s not a long term one but we’ll see how he is on Friday. We’re still hopeful he’ll be involved at the weekend but we’ll give it another 24 hours. 

“Flo is out on the grass doing training and he’ll be trying to get back into the squad, and Simeon too. It’s about rewarding players for effort in the Checkatrade - people like Reece, Maz and Kins have come into the mix again. 

“They’ve got to fight not just to start but to get back into the squad.”

The Saddlers head to Greater Manchester on Saturday on a four-game unbeaten run in all competitions, taking two victories and two draws in that time, including their first away win of the season against Oxford United last weekend.

Our opponents meanwhile sit second in Sky Bet League One after 10 games, winning four of their last five but suffering a 3-2 defeat at Peterborough United last Saturday.

And while Whitney appreciates Wigan carry plenty of threats - including former Saddler Will Grigg, who may well lead the line for the Latics against the club that handed the 26-year-old his EFL debut in 2008 - the Saddlers boss maintains faith in the threats his side possess heading into this weekend.

“Every single game is a test,” Whitney added.  “In League One, this season especially, anyone can beat anyone. We’ll go there expecting a tough game but also with our heads held high and quite confident that we can go and frustrate them. 

“We’ve got a threat and I’m sure Paul Cook is aware of the energy we’ve got. We’ll look to make sure we can keep them quiet as they try to dominate possession at home. 

“I know Will Grigg really well, they’ve brought Ivan Toney in and they’ve got Gavin Massey who has scored goals in wide positions. 

“They’ve got experience at the back with Sam Morsy in front. 

“We’ve got our win away from home - so we’ve got to build on that and try to keep this run going into five games unbeaten.”


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