Walsall boss Jon Whitney calls on players to give him a headache

Boss Jon Whitney has called on Walsall’s players to fight for their places and ‘give him a headache’ before the start of the League One campaign.

Jon Whitney.
Jon Whitney.

The Saddlers continue their pre-season programme when they visit non-league Chester tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).

Whitney is expected to name a starting XI similar to the one which drew 0-0 with Villa on Tuesday evening and is challenging players to give him a selection dilemma before next month’s opening league game away at Bury.

“I told them before the Villa game, now is business time. This is the team,” said the boss. “There will be a few disappointed they are not in it but they have to now fight because there is competition for places. They have to fight to keep that shirt now.

“You can’t wait till a week before to turn it on. These lads have hit it from day one and their application and work ethic has been a pleasure. If you have got that and the team ethos we have a chance and will be competitive in every game.”

He continued: “What I want is a big headache when it comes to the Friday before Bury. I want selection problems where I have to leave certain people out who have done well.”

The trip to Chester is followed by a high-profile friendly with Albion at the Banks’s next Wednesday, before the Saddlers close out their pre-season with games at Chasetown, Lincoln City and Rushall Olympic.

Whitney believes players will have taken confidence from the performance against Villa but conceded fitness remains the most important factor at this stage.

“It was a strong starting team (against Villa),” he said. “Energy wise I want to make sure no-one outruns us.

“I can see the energy we have on the pitch. We knew that coming back off the tests we have done.

“Physicality is a massive part of it but we can also play. We have players who are comfortable on the ball. I thought we were the better team against Villa when it was at a high tempo.

“It is pleasing but only a pre-season game and we have two-and-a-bit weeks to fine tune things.”

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