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Keates: feed off Luton atmosphere

20 October 2018

Dean Keates is hoping his players can feed off the atmosphere at Kenilworth Road when the Saddlers visit Luton this afternoon.

Walsall have excelled on the road this season, taking 14 points from six away league matches.

But the unbeaten away record will be put to the test against a Luton side with the best home form in the league.

The Hatters’ historic Kenilworth Road ground is one of the noisiest stadiums in the league, with stands close to the pitch.

And Keates has urged his team to embrace the hostile environment.

“When I played there as a player – and I went there a few times with Wrexham – it was one of those places you wanted to play at,” said the boss.

“It's that close, it's that tight and for me, when I played, I enjoyed that.

“I didn't mind if people tried to intimidate me, that can get the best out of you.

“It will be a difficult game.

“They have good variation. They mix the play and try and play through you.

“They came up and they want to go up again. They are going to be there or thereabouts.

“It is going to be a tough game for ourselves.”

The Saddlers are searching for a seventh away win in eight games in all competitions – and Keates admits playing away can suit his side.

“I think when you are the away team you can play a little more compact, a bit more disciplined and then the home team has to come at you,” he commented.

“That's probably been the case at our place sometimes.

“Maybe one or two things have gone for us a bit away from home.

“You look at the Shrewsbury game [at home] and how we haven't won that I've got no idea.

“We had a couple cleared off the line, a few decisions didn't go our way. But you need that little bit of luck.”

It is the Saddlers’ first game after a two-week break due to internationals – and the boss says the team made the most of the previous fortnight.

“It was good for us as a football club as it gave us the chance to let one or two things settle down.

“For the mental side of the players, we have pushed them and asked a lot of them.

“It's a young squad. There are a few players that have come from non-league so it was an opportunity for a few of them to have a breather and take stock of everything.

“And the players that have moved to the area to be close to the football club, it gave them a chance to go back home and see their families.

“It's important sometimes you have that mental break away from football, but we’re ready to get back at it.”


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