Dean Keates says the Saddlers’ break without a game has given him more chance to get to know his players.
By the time Walsall return to action against play-off chasing Portsmouth on Easter Saturday, it will have been ten days since our last match.
Keates feels the enforced break has been extremely beneficial, providing him with an extended opportunity to examine his new squad as we prepare for eight crucial games.
“The ten days has helped me personally – just to get to know the players and see what they’re about,” said the 39-year-old, who only took charge a fortnight ago.
“I had previous knowledge from watching them and I’d seen reports as well. But the ten days was about getting to know them personally and what their characters are like.
“The basics are there – they work hard and they’re honest – which is the minimum you can ask for. We’re maybe a little bit young and maybe we’ve struggled a bit on the leadership side.
“We’ve got eight games left now and we know what’s at stake. The players understand what is needed to be done for this football club.
“The short-team aim is to make sure we get the points to make sure we are in League One for next season.
“The fitness levels are there and they’re enthusiastic. All being well, we can give them a bit more confidence and get them organised for the final eight games.”
The first of those matches is at home to Kenny Jackett’s eighth-placed Pompey, who beat ten-man Oxford in their last outing.
“I am expecting a tough game,” he commented. “They had a great result at the weekend and will come here full of confidence.
“It was a close game against Oxford; the sending off completely changed the game and Oxford possibly deserved something.
“But with the result and performance, they will come here with confidence. They will probably bring in excess of 1,000 fans so it should be a good atmosphere.”
And Keates knows the fans have a big part to play.
“We’re at home and we need our fans to get behind the lads. They can make a difference and be the 12th man for us.”