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James O'Connor should return as Saddlers mull loan move

Sport | Published:

Walsall hope defender James O'Connor will return for Saturday's promotion showdown with Wigan – as boss Sean O'Driscoll continues to mull a loan swoop for Manchester City's Ellis Plummer.

The 21-year-old centre-back impressed during a run out for the Saddlers reserves last week and O'Driscoll has acknowledged the former England under-17 international would provide additional defensive strength in depth to his promotion-chasing side.

But he is also aware of the need to promote Walsall's younger players when the opportunity arises, something he will weigh up before deciding whether to make a move for Plummer.

Matt Preston, a product of the club's own youth academy, impressed after replacing O'Connor for Saturday's 1-1 draw at Crewe. And O'Driscoll said: "Trying to get people in on loan is difficult because they all want to play. If I tell them they can't play or they are not going to be first choice then it's difficult.

"That is the market we are in. He (Plummer) is someone we look at and like. And it is an area we are short. Bryn Morris could fill in there, so could Adam Chambers. But the ethos of the club is to try to give young players a chance and that is what Matty Preston did against Crewe. We will have to look at it week-by-week whether we can bring people in who are better than what we have got."

O'Connor missed the draw at Crewe with a dead leg but O'Driscoll is optimistic the 31-year-old, a mainstay of the Saddlers defence all season, will return for the visit of the Latics.

"He has been playing with painkillers, we scanned him and he's got some fluid trapped in his thigh," said the head coach. "Hopefully he will be okay for Wigan. It's not as serious as a strain. It's just trapped fluid but we've all had dead legs. I was disappointed for Jimmy because he was desperate to play (against Crewe) but it was a really good game for Matt Preston to come into. I thought for a young centre half he did extremely well."

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