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Devlin: confidence remains high

3 April 2018

Nicky Devlin says confidence is still high within The Saddlers' squad as the Scottish defender looks ahead to Saturday’s game against Bury.

With our Easter Monday game at Bradford City postponed due to the pitch at Valley Parade being waterlogged, it prevented The Saddlers from bouncing back quickly to Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at home to Portsmouth.

The Saddlers largely held firm defensively in that game, only for a late strike from Gareth Evans to nestle in the bottom corner and secure three points for Pompey.

Devlin took responsibility for his part in the goal conceded, but says the squad are not letting their heads drop despite the current run of form.

“The feeling is still good,” said Devlin. “I’ve got to put my hands up - it was probably my mistake that led to their goal. 

“We should have taken something from that game and we know that. Defensively we were a lot better than we have been. 

“But confidence is still high in the squad - we’ve maybe not been getting the results but we know that if we turn up, we can win any game. 

“Obviously we’re disappointed (that Bradford was postponed). We only had one day to prepare and we wanted to put right what went wrong on Saturday against Portsmouth. For now we’ve got to prepare for a massive game against Bury next Saturday.

“If you ask any of the boys and the management, we’d have wanted to get out there and get points on the board. It lets other teams put pressure on us but now we’ve just got to prepare for Bury and make sure we get three points there.”

Devlin has seen first-hand the changes that new manager Dean Keates has been trying to implement from a defensive point of view.

And the 24-year-old believes those changes could have led to a clean sheet on Saturday, and that those alterations will help lead to victories.

“He’s looked to make us harder to score against,” said Devlin. “We need to keep the ball out of the back of the net. 

“I’m sure we would have done that on Saturday had I not mucked up the clearance. We’re closer to getting the clean sheets and I’m sure as soon as we start getting those, we’ll pick up victories.

“He’s maybe being careful not to change too much at once because if you change too much in the beginning it might not work as well. So it’s bit by bit but being more defensively secure is one of the things we need to work on and he is doing that. 

“You can start to see him speaking to the strikers and trying to help bring goals to their game. Slowly but surely he is putting his stamp on the squad.

“This week was always going to be a pivotal one in the season. It’s getting towards the end and its so tight with the teams below us. We know it’s going to be three really hard games but we need to make sure we pick ourselves up out of the position we’re in.”


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