Remember those bloody awful grim days of October and November? Well, in a season where the Saddlers have put many things right, they have another chance tomorrow, with an opportunity to rub the 6th November out of the minds of the fans and one of the worst home performances of the season, a 1 – 4 home defeat to struggling Scunthorpe. Since then, of course, the Saddlers have become a team transformed (copywright R Whalley), with a magnificent run of form which has takenn them to the fringes of the play off race.
Most fans probably thought that the fat lady was clearing her throat after the 1 – 1 draw with Sheffield United, when better finishing would have put the Saddlers out of sight in the first half, but she was definitely sent back to wait in the wings after Swindon’s defeat at the Franchise on Tuesday and Sheffiled United’s catestrophic home defeat, which saw the departure of Danny Wilson. Now it’s three games left, three wins needed.
Dean Smith, following his third Manager of the Month nomination out of three, does have some problems, however. Mr Consistency, Andy Taylor, is out with his hamstring strain and may now miss the rest of the regular season. Smith does have James Chambers, looking a class act now he’s properly fit, back from injury, however, and he is likely to take over at left back, with Purkiss retaining the right back slot.
More of a worry is that Captain Fantastic, Andy Butler, is only rated 50/50, having broken a bone in his toe. If he does play, it will be with pain killing injections, showing his bravery once again (Adel Taraabt, please note). If he doesn’t make it, Dean Holden will probably deputise. He shoud make a more than adequate replacement, as the problem with him and Butler earlier in the season was that they are too much like each other.
Smith’s bit of great news is the return of leading scorer Will Grigg, who is fit for the game.
Brain Laws does have more problems. Despite being expected to return last week, captain Paul Reid could make an appearance in the game following a setback which ruled him out of the trip to Preston, which the Iron lost, meekly, 0 – 3.
Laws said that Reid “could be available this Saturday” after making his way back to full training.
Fellow defender Eddie Nolan is also expected to push for a first team place after pulling out of the clash at Deepdale with a tight hamstring.
He will battle with Christian Ribeiro for a position in the back four after the Welshman slotted into the right back spot in what was his first appearance for Scunthorpe since January.
The game could come too early for goalkeeper Sam Slocombe, but there are positive signs as he also trained properly for the first time this week since his thigh injury.
There will also be checks on Michael Collins (thigh) and Akpo Sodje (ankle) ahead of the game (how come everybody but us has got a Sodje?).
United’s other absentees Damien Mozika, Josh Walker, Callum Kennedy and Connor Jennings are all effectively out for the remainder of the season.
Scunthorpe’s current run of form is won 1, drawn 0, lost 5. Walsall’s is won 2, drawn 4, lost 0. Away win and dream on!