Walsall still craves action after an extended hiatus


Walsall manager Matt Taylor

The Saddlers, barring a final postponement, are set to host Newport County at Banks’s Stadium tomorrow.

As long as this continues, this will be their first game since December 11 – when they beat Colchester 3-0 – after seeing three in a row called off due to Covid.

Newport has struggled in his squad but is determined to play. And it’s safe to say that so is Walsall.

Matt Taylor has enjoyed an extended time on the training ground with his team, but the players are desperate to return to the League Two cup and push.

“It will be good for the players,” said Taylor.

“The effort they’ve put in over the past few weeks, a strange time with many canceled football games across the country, they’re desperate to get back on the pitch.

“Of course, what is of paramount importance is that they can do it safely – and that the fans can come and watch it safely.

“It will be good for them to come back on the pitch. I know they are all desperate to do it.

After such a long break, Taylor says he’s been careful not to overload his players with too much information about Newport as he wants them to “feel free” to get into the clash.

They will, however, have done their homework on the division’s top scorer, Dominic Telford.

One of the perks of the leave is that it allowed skipper Joss Labadie and Conor Wilkinson to progress with their injuries – in the groin and hamstrings respectively.

It’s unclear whether they’ll be fit enough for tomorrow, but Walsall has so far managed to avert a Covid outbreak thanks to the diligent work of players and staff.

Taylor said of his team’s condition: “We’re better. We hope to continue to put the players back on the turf and in the squad.

“We’re in good shape right now. It creates enormous competition.

“This period gave us a little more time in terms of rehabilitation, the return of the players to the team and to the training program.”

And avoiding Covid, he said: “It’s because the players have behaved in an exemplary manner – both in and out of the building.

“I can only congratulate them for that, for their professionalism.

“We were very lucky because the protocols in place at the club are exceptional. We will continue to abide by these rules, of course, because we want to make sure that as many of our players are fit and Covid-free as possible.

“It’s first and foremost for our families and then to continue to be fit, ready and available for games.”

Walsall, who is aiming for consecutive wins for the first time this season, will be without Manny Monthe. He begins his seven-game suspension, with Ash Taylor playing at center.


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