Walsall youngster Paul Downing today backed Dean Holden to stand tall as the defensive veteran prepares to start in Saturday’s vital clash with Colchester.
Holden is in line to replace the injured James Chambers, as the Saddlers target their first league win of the season against the struggling Us at the Banks’s.
And Downing, who is likely to partner the 34-year-old, has hailed Holden’s return to action after injury ruled him out for the whole of last season.
Holden has made five appearances already this term and Downing said: “You have to give him massive credit.
“I had a year out of the game early on in my career and I know what he’s done is impressive because it is very difficult to come back.
“It just shows the kind of character he has and I’m delighted for him. He is playing really well at the back and I’m sure he will be itching to keep his place.
“He will want to make it as hard as possible for anyone coming back in to get the shirt off him.”
And Downing, who partnered former club captain Andy Butler successfully before his departure for Sheffield United in the summer, believes both Chambers and Holden are capable of filling the ex-skipper’s shoes.
Downing said: “Andy was very dominant and Deano is an aggressive player and likes to be strong.
“James is probably a bit different as a player but they are both very experienced and have played at a higher level and been around the block.”
The Saddlers have drawn three and lost two of their five League One games so far and boss Dean Smith admits they most improve on their display in Saturday’s 2-1 reverse at Scunthorpe.
He said: “If we put in more performances like that we won’t get it (first win). If we put the kind of performances in we are capable of, we might get it.”