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Walsall boss has faith in James Baxendale

Walsall | Sport | Published:

Manager Dean Smith today backed James Baxendale to rediscover his best form for Walsall.

The 22-year-old midfielder has been in and out of the Saddlers starting line-up this season – though he did start last weekend's 0-0 draw at Gillingham.

Smith believes Baxendale, who signed a three-year deal at the Banks's in 2013, suffered from a drop in form towards the end of last season but the manager has recently seen signs of improvement.

"He lost a bit of form at the end of last season," said Smith. "He had started last season unbelievably well and scored in the first three or four games and looked really good.

"He just lost a little bit of form.

"But just seeing him the last few weeks I think he is getting it back, which is what we want to see from him. Consistently, he can be a really good player for us."

Baxendale has featured nine times so far this term, though five of those appearances have been off the bench and last Saturday was the first time he had completed a full 90 minutes since December, a gap of some 28 appearances.

And after netting three times early last season, he now hasn't scored in over a year.

Smith added: "I think he feels the same, he wants to be playing week-in, week-out, completing games and scoring goals.

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"The people who have seen us over the past two or three years have seen the quality of James Baxendale and seen the quality of some of the goals he has scored.

"He is that sort of player."

Baxendale, who will hope to be involved against his hometown club Doncaster this afternoon, has found increased competition on the flanks this season from the likes of Ashley Grimes and Anthony Forde.

The player himself believes the quality in the squad will see the Saddlers climbing from their current position of 20th in the League One table sooner rather than later.

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"There's a lot of lads here in the squad that have been used to us being higher up in the league so we want to get back up there as soon as we can," said Baxendale.

"You can see in training that it's coming back. I've got no doubt that we are going to climb the league and the competition for places is going to be high this season.

"The training is very good at the minute, we are training with a tempo."

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