It seems to be one crisis match after another just at the moment, as the Saddlers welcome Swindon to the Banksâ€™s Stadium, in what is their game in hand on the rest of the Division. We are, at the moment, nine points behind Scunthorpe (in the last of the play off places) and six points ahead of Yeovil (in the last of the relegation places). Itâ€™s easy to see from that what the consequences of yet another home defeat (the fourth in a row, remember) might bring. Itâ€™s certainly difficult to see this team, in itâ€™s current state, managing 17 games undefeated in a row, like we managed last season and we are uncomfortably close to the bottom should that home form fail to improve.
That brings us to the vexed question of team selection.
Gilmartin will be in goal (Ince will be out for three to four weeks), with new signing Kajtezovic on the bench.
Roberts missed the game on Tuesday and we donâ€™t know if heâ€™ll be fit, so the back four should be Weston, Gerrard, Smith and Boertien, but I think we can safely assume that Palmer will find his way in there somehow.
Dwayne Mattis is the doubt in midfield, with his back problems, and, I suspect, weâ€™ll line up Taundry, Hughes, Bradley, Nicholls if he doesnâ€™t make it.
Up front, everyone will be hoping for the return of Jabo Iberhe, but expect Deeney to replace him should he not make it.
As for Swindon, striker Barry Corr is rated at 50/50 for the game having suffered a knock to his calf in training. David Byrne will be able to include Craig Easton, who has recovered from his own calf problem, however.
They did line up in their last game like this:
Phil Smith, Jack Smith, Aljofree, Kanyuka, Timlin, McGovern, Pook, Peacock, McNamee, Paynter, Cox.
Subs: Brezovan, Ifil, Easton, Joyce, Nalis.
The familiar names there are old enemy Jon Paul McGovern, Lee Peacock (the player Merson was so sure of signing that he had no Plan B and we ended up with Barrowman instead), ex Leicester and Plymouth midfielder Lilian Nalis and former Liverpool youngster and ex Port Fail striker Billy Paynter. Former Saddler Jamie Vincent is a long term injury absentee. The dangerman, however, is Cox, who has 16 goals in all competitions this season, including three hat tricks.
Swindon are sitting 18th in the table with nineteen 19 points from 17 games played. Dukeâ€™s form guide to the last six games is:
Northampton – home – won 2-1
Oldham – home – won 2-0
Scunthorpe – away – drew 3-3
Leicester – home – drew 2-2
Bristol Rover – away – drew 2-2
Peterborough – home drew 2-2
Swindonâ€™s last league defeat was Southend away (2-1), on 18/10/08 (although they have suffered 2 cup defeats 1-0 away at Histon in the FA Cup and 2-0 at Brighton in the JP Trophy).
They have recovered well from a poor start and will provide stiff opposition, but, with the players knowing that we are in the last chance saloon for this season, I think weâ€™ll win this one.