Paul Downing wows ‘em at Walsall

Dean Smith today hailed Paul Downing and declared the young Walsall defender is back to his best.

Walsall's Paul Downing battles for the ball

The 22-year-old centre-back was dropped for the first time in his professional career last month following a dip in form.

But after returning to the team because of Ben Purkiss’ suspension, Downing has grasped his chance and the Saddlers have kept back-to-back clean sheets.

“Paul has come back in and done really well,” said Smith. “He had a rest and looks refreshed and has put in some wonderful performances.

“He has a great relationship with (captain) Andy Butler, as have all the back four and not forgetting Richard O’Donnell in goal.”

The Saddlers have conceded just three goals in their last five games following a sticky patch and the manager added: “You can even go back as far as Wolves, where I thought they were fortunate to get the three goals against us.

“The last four games defensively have been spot on for us.”