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Jon Whitney: No Walsall players are guaranteed a spot

Sport | Published:

Saddlers boss Jon Whitney has told his players nobody is safe from being dropped following their heavy defeat to Rochdale.

Walsall, who were thrashed 4-0 by the Dale on Tuesday, return to League One action tomorrow when Southend visit the Banks's Stadium.

Whitney has kept faith with the same starting XI for Walsall's last three outings.

But after describing his team's performance at Spotland as "embarrassing," the boss has told his players to up their game.

"After a performance like that nobody is safe," Whitney said. "I want to see who steps up the plate in training before I pick my team.

"I have looked at myself. And I have told the players to look at themselves.

"We have put sessions on to see if the players are ready for it because with a performance like that you put pressure on yourself.

"The fans now want to see a reaction. The same as I do. We let our standards slip against Rochdale and it's not acceptable."

The defeat to Keith Hill's side was the second time this season the Saddlers conceded four goals – with Scunthorpe winning 4-1 at the Banks's in September.

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Whitney's side responded to that loss by going on a six-game unbeaten run.

And while Whitney is still hurt by Tuesday's loss, the boss has faith his players will respond in the right way.

"We have reacted really well in the past and I trust my players to respond," Whitney said. "I believe they hurt like I hurt. I'm really looking forward to Southend. It's a challenge and a chance to start another run. The manner of Tuesday is what is disappointing but we will put it right."

Whitney is expecting a tough challenge from Phil Brown's Southend, who have risen to ninth in League One.

"Phil is an experienced manager - he knows how to win games in this league," the boss added. "But if we win we are within two points of them. It's just words at the moment. We have to do that and have a game plan and a team that will cause them problems."

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