Karl Darlow might be the new boy but admits he has to be cut-throat to succeed.
The Nottingham Forest loanee is a paid-up member of the goalkeepers’ union but insists all’s fair in love and war.
He was recruited to replace David Grof after the Hungarian’s uneasy start to the season and has helped Walsall record back-to-back wins over Preston and Bournemouth.
They host Leyton Orient tonight knowing victory could move them into the League One automatic promotion spots.
And after instantly replacing Grof after his arrival last month Darlow insisted he has to put any awkwardness to one side.
“There probably is but it doesn’t really bother me if I’m going to be plain,” said the former Villa trainee, with Walsall sixth in the table.
“I can’t have any awkwardness. In a way it sounds harsh but the relationship doesn’t really matter. If I’m playing games that’s all that matters – in a harsh, cut-throat kind of way. But that’s football, players come in and take your position. If you have a bad run of games you drop out. You just have to take the good with the bad really, never get too high or get too low.
“But David and Wacka (James Walker) have been really good and Wacka’s coaching has been brilliant. He has listened to me and even in the warm-up he has let me do what I need so I’m right.
“He said I’m the one playing the game so he’s not going to preach to me what I should and shouldn’t be doing. As long as I feel right in what I’m doing I’m happy. It’s good, there’s a good understanding and I feel I’ve fitted in well so far.”
Eight games on loan at Newport County last season is the bulk of his senior career with one League Cup appearance against Fleetwood in August his only start for Forest.
But Darlow has instantly settled into the Saddlers’ line-up with an immediate understanding with his defence, who have formed the base for the fine start.
“I’m hopefully here to grow with the experience,” said the 21-year-old. “They are the most experienced players in squad, the back four, and that’s nice as a goalkeeper. You like to rely on your back four and there are some experienced heads in there. I help them out and they help me but you never stop learning.”
The 2-1 victory at Bournemouth on Saturday was the Saddlers’ fourth win in their last five games to leave them joint third in League One. The manner of recent victories has been the most impressive and Darlow insisted they need to maintain their form.
He said: “As a team we want performances, you build off performances. We want to hit the same levels, if not perform better, and keep building and building. There’s nothing like a winning run. When I was at Newport we went on a run and were winning and drawing and as long as you don’t get beaten it doesn’t matter. We want to keep accumulating points.”
Adam Chambers could be available against his former club after a hamstring injury but brother James is still sidelined with his ongoing thigh trouble.
Orient have Anthony Griffiths available after suspension and Martin Rowlands should be fit after missing Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Doncaster.
The loss was Orient’s first in four games and boss Russell Slade felt his side were out-battled too easily.
He said: “They played ugly and came with a game plan and it’s come off.”Subscribe to our Newsletter