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Tough love at Walsall is working for Saddlers defender Manny Smith

Walsall | Sport | Published:

Walsall defender Manny Smith isn't the sentimental type but he believes the Saddlers' tough love is working.

Walsall defender Manny Smith isn't the sentimental type but he believes the Saddlers' tough love is working.

Dean Smith's men are hard to beat but finding it hard to win as they search for the missing piece of the puzzle after two victories in 19 games.

But progress in tonight's FA Cup second round replay clash with Dagenham & Redbridge will extend their unbeaten run to five games.

They have lost just once in the last seven matches – although they have drawn five – with their one win coming in a 3-2 first-round replay victory over Exeter.

However, Saturday's 1-1 draw with Charlton maintained the belief they are turning their season around.

And Smith credited the manager's standards and ambition for the Saddlers' mini-revival.

He said: "The gaffer has been hard on us. We know what he expects and he knows what we can do. When you don't perform he's on us because our levels would have dipped. He believes in us.

"We can't wait for the games to come at the moment. All the boys are working hard in training and it's showing in matches. We're going into the games looking forward to them now. The gaffer has been very good.

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"He tells us what he expects and we want to pay him back with wins, not defeats. We can't get ahead of ourselves though, there are still a lot of games left and we're still looking for the wins.

"We'll keep fighting and a draw on Saturday was a decent result. We had a few chances as well so we could even have won."

Smith impressed in Dagenham 10 days ago after a rough and tumble game ended 1-1 and is confident the Saddlers can finally finish the job at the Banks's Stadium.

He said: "Everyone is looking forward to tonight. The way they play is a different style to us but we've played against them before, we know what they are going to throw at us.

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"It's all about us on the day really. If we play to our strengths then we don't think we'll have any problems. I don't think it really matters about how big the crowd is either.

"The boys know what job they have to do and it's another game. We're not going to come off the pitch losers – we have got to make sure we have no regrets."

Smith will continue at the back with Oliver Lancashire as the duo keep fit-again skipper Andy Butler out of the side.

But Mat Sadler is suspended after his red card in the Addicks draw while Ryan Jarvis is also banned following his dismissal against Dagenham in the first tie.

Smith admitted Walsall will miss left-back Sadler – who had played every minute of this season up until his red card.

The centre-back said: "He hasn't missed a game this season – he's an experienced guy on the left. He's always organising and the boys will miss him.

"But it's a chance for others to show what they can do."

Darryl Westlake is expected to return after ankle ligament damage with Lee Beevers switching to left-back, but Kevan Hurst is likely to miss out despite nearing a return from a broken bone in his heel.

Dagenham are without loanees West Ham's Cristiano Montano, Kettering's Adam Cunnington and Darlington's Exodus Geohaghon as they haven't received permission to play.

Arsenal goalkeeper James Shea has returned to the Gunners while Damian Scannell has joined Eastleigh.

The Daggers lost their ninth straight League Two game with a 2-1 defeat at Port Vale on Saturday and now sit bottom.

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