Miguel Llera will take charge of the Under-18s for the first time this evening when the Saddlers visit Lichfield City (KO: 7.45pm).
The 39-year-old was appointed Academy Manager last week and oversaw his first training session yesterday, his first official day in the role.
The former Sheffield Wednesday centre-back attended the young Saddlers’ 3-1 friendly defeat at Bristol Rovers on Saturday to gain a better understanding of his players.
And Llera is hoping to see improvements from his team tonight, particularly out of possession.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the kids in action again,” he said. “I watched the last game and hopefully I will see a slight improvement and more work ethic without the ball.
“This is what I realised the other day – that we need to work harder without the ball – and I will be looking for that tonight, against a tough team.
“I’ve only seen one game and had one training session but individually they look pretty good technically.
“I will need more time to get to know them and adapt to them, in regards to style and how the first team want to play. I need to create an environment like you would find in the first team.
“We need players for League Two who are technically good, strong physicality-wise, pretty strong without the ball, with a good level of aggression and commitment.”
A former Walsall employee will be stood in the opposite dugout this evening.
Lichfield manager Jamie Hawkins held the role of Community Officer for a number of years and also coached in our academy, working with the Under-9s, 10s and 11s.
He guided Lichfield to their highest-ever finish last season – fourth at step-six level – and believes tonight’s match-up will be a good challenge for his team.
“It’ll be good to pitch ourselves against full-time footballers,” said Hawkins.
“We have quite a purposeful, unforgiving pre-season schedule against higher-level opposition, which should really stand us in good stead heading into the season.
“We are going to have to do a lot of work out of possession. It’ll get their legs and lungs working, but we pride ourselves on being fit and a good side ourselves.”
Hawkins also expressed his pleasure at the growing link between the two clubs, after it was agreed that we would play our Under-17 Midland Floodlit Youth League matches at The City Ground.
“The club approached us about needing a venue for the Under-17s and it’s a great link for Lichfield to have, with a local professional club,” Hawkins added.
Tickets for tonight's game are priced at £3 for adults and £1 for concessions.
Address: The City Ground, Brownsfield Road, Eastern Avenue, Lichfield, Staffordshire, WS13 6AY