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Jon Whitney focusing on improving Walsall defence

Sport | Published:

Walsall's players are in for a tough few days mastering the art of set-piece defending, boss Jon Whitney has revealed.

The Saddlers saw their hopes of finishing in the League One play-offs as good as ended earlier this month when they were beaten at Southend despite taking a two-goal lead.

All three of Southend's goals came direct from or following free-kicks.

And with the majority of Whitney's squad having now returned following the international break, the boss is determined to make sure his players tighten up at the back.

"From Monday I want to really starting drilling the players to improve us for the rest of this season and for next year as well," the boss said.

"I want to try and nip a few things in the bud. It's no secret we are going to concentrate on set-pieces.

"I want to make sure we are more hungry to keep the ball out the net. I want us to start enjoying set-piece defending like I did when I played.

"It's been difficult because haven't had all the group together and it's important we don't get too down because in general play we are okay.

"But it's those dead ball situations we have to do better with. At the end of the day it's just a willingness to keep the ball out."

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Whitney says he has made it clear to his players that conceding three times from set-plays in a single game is not acceptable.

"We have started to look a threat from our set-pieces," the boss continued.

"But we also can't get away from the fact we have had conceded far too many from set-pieces.

"Three in one game is extreme. But we conceded too many at Bolton as well.

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"We haven't got a lot of height in the team and that is an area which I might have to look at for next season.

"But there is a lot we can work on. We are being proactive and the players are as well.

"We can see there are things we can do to reduce the risk and first and foremost don't give away free-kicks in the first place.

"I will be putting a few things into the players where they are told what to do in situations so we can take away that threat."

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