O'Connor: Walsall must reflect in break

James O'Connor has told his Walsall team mates they must reflect on both the positives and negatives of last season to ensure success next year.

Walsall's James O'Connor
Walsall's James O'Connor

The Saddlers ended the 2016/17 campaign in disappointing fashion with one win in their last 10 games seeing them slip to 14th in the League One table.

And O’Connor believes it’s important the squad reflect on the successes and failures of last season over the summer break.

“You look at the season as a whole and there were some positives as well as negatives,” the 32-year-old said.

“It’s important you learn from both. I’ve had seasons that have ended fantastically and some that haven’t ended quite so well.

“At the end of the day you get away and get yourself into a frame of mind to approach the new season as positively as possible and give it the very best again.”

O’Connor says it’s difficult for players to turn their attentions away from football when a season hasn’t gone to plan.

“You try to switch off,” he continued.

“Obviously last season didn’t end on the best of notes. It was tough with ups and downs. There is lots to learn from but first you just try to recharge your batteries, which we’ll be trying to do for a couple of weeks.

“Then it’ll be back into things and preparing for next year, but you never fully switch off really.”

Towards the end of last season, boss Jon Whitney handed an opportunity to some of Walsall youngsters with the likes of Mitch Candlin and Tobias Hayles-Docherty making their first team debuts. And O’Connor said he and some of the Saddlers other experienced players will be challenging the youngsters to kick on when pre-season training resumes.

“I think they’ve earned an opportunity - that’s the most important thing,” the former Doncaster Rovers defender said.

“When you get an opportunity, you give yourself the chance of taking it.

“I’m sure from day one we’ll be encouraging the likes of Tobias and others as well to do as well as possible right from the first run of pre-season, really. You try to get yourself right up there and maintain standards.”

O’Connor has so far spent the close season looking after his two little girls.

“I’ve been babysitting and looking after my two little girls,” he added.

“I’m sure I’ll get itchy feet in the next week or two but it’s important you recharge your batteries and get away from the day-in, day-out - I wouldn’t say stresses but you put yourself under pressure to do as well as possible.”

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