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Keates looks ahead to Oldham clash

11 April 2018

Manager Dean Keates has a largely fully-fit squad for what he anticipates will be an “edgy” affair at Boundary Park tonight as The Saddlers travel to Oldham Athletic (7.45pm kick-off).

Following Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Bury, Keates’ first since taking charge at the Banks’s Stadium, The Saddlers now travel to Greater Manchester for the rearranged game against The Latics, originally scheduled for March 24th.

The two sides are 18th and 19th in the table, with Oldham three points behind us going into the fixture.

Keates is expecting a difficult tie, but aside from Joe Edwards (knee) and Krystian Bielik (hamstring) the Saddlers boss will have a fully-fit squad. Both Justin Shaibu and Flo Cuvelier, substituted against Bury, will be fit.

“Everybody’s fine and we’ve got a full bill of health,” said Keates. 

“Flo and Justin haven’t played too much so it’s just a case of fatigue kicking in. It was all precautionary.

“Oldham try to play, so it’s going to be a tough game. They’ve got some decent players - it’s going to be a difficult one for us. 

“We’re in a batch of games now where we need to pick up points, but they’ll be looking at us thinking that if they can beat us they’ll be level. 

“It’s two teams who don’t want to lose the game and it might be a little bit edgy, but we’ll go out there and hopefully give a good account of ourselves, and come back with some points.

“We possibly deserved (the win against Bury) overall - first half we looked the more capable and in the second Bury had it swing in their favour. But the lads kept on and showed the right desire. 

“It wasn’t about the performance, it was about points. We’ve put it to bed, looked at it and we’re now getting ready for Oldham.”

Keates will look at his squad options for the game, and was asked about the performances of on-loan Brentford striker Shaibu and midfielder Kieron Morris in recent games.

“Justin is strong, he’s powerful and it’s a case of getting minutes into him and getting him fit,” Keates said. 

“Hopefully he can have an impact over the last few games of the season. He did okay against Bury and he’s something for me to think about going into Oldham. 

“It’s not just his pace - he gets into the right positions in the box in training. He’s a young man learning his trade, and he’s something different up front for us.

“I know Kieron. He was one of the lads I knew when I came in. He played at Wrexham and I played alongside him so I know what sort of character he is. 

“It’s a bit of a clean slate for everyone when a new manager comes in and he’s performed okay, but so has everybody else. Everybody needs to continue that work over the next few games.”

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