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James O'Connor praises Walsall partner Kevin Toner

Sport | Published:

James O'Connor has heaped praised on defensive colleague Kevin Toner following the youngsters arrival from Villa.

The 20-year-old was snapped up on loan by boss Jon Whitney in August on the same day he agreed a new two-year deal with his parent club.

As well as being a centre-back, O'Connor and Toner have a lot in common with the Saddlers vice-captain also coming through the ranks at Villa Park.

And the former Doncaster man admits he has been hugely impressed by his new defensive partner.

"I think he has done really well," O'Connor said.

"The first two games especially, against Bolton and Peterborough he was excellent. Scunthorpe was a disappointing performance from the whole side – nobody did themselves any favours.

"But we bounced back well against Millwall.

"Right from day one, Kevin has come in with a good attitude, he's come from a good club in the Villa.

"He has had a good schooling in football and has slotted in well here."

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O'Connor was a Villa player when he had his first taste of senior football with a loan switch to Port Vale.

And he believes temporary moves are a vital learning curve for all young players.

"I think it is the biggest thing for a young player," he said. "It's a real eye opener, it's one of them where you sink or swim."

"A lot of players surprise themselves because they do better than other players who are perhaps more technically gifted.

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"If you can get out to a good level like League One or League two, it is a fantastic learning curve.

"It's all about being involved on a Saturday at 3pm.

"You have to get used to playing for points and playing for people's mortgages.

"That is a different kind of pressure.

"But it's not just the football side. You walk into a club for a first time and you may not know anyone. It's daunting.

"It says a lot about the character of a young player if they can walk into club and integrate themselves into the dressing room and what the club is trying to do."

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