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Jon Whitney close to finalising Walsall squad for league opener

By Joseph Masi | Walsall FC | Published:

Walsall boss Jon Whitney says he is close to finalising his best XI but revealed he may still spring a surprise for the League One opener at Bury.

Jon Whitney

The Saddlers kick-off the 2017/18 campaign on Saturday when they travel to Gigg Lane to take on Lee Clarke’s Shakers.

Having favoured a 3-5-2 system last year, Whitney has experimented with a more traditional 4-4-2 formation throughout pre-season as he looks for more tactical flexibility.

And while the boss has a good idea what his starting line-up will be for the trip to Great Manchester, he says those plans will be worked on and finalised later this week.

“Everything over the past six weeks has been geared towards putting in good performance at Bury,” Whitney said.

“On Tuesday I will finalise my plans for my starting XI at Bury and we will work on those plans from there.

“That will then go into Thursday and Friday. We will nail a few things down but we have still got a few things up our sleeve.

“It’s an exciting time. We want to start the games now. We want that atmosphere and we want to be playing for points.

“The hard work and the meters we have put in, over 200,000 meters, we are in a good place. We are a strong unit and really looking forward to the game.”

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As well as ramping up his preparations for Bury, Whitney is also still working to sign a new striker to compete with Simeon Jackson and Amadou Bakayoko.

But while he is talking to a host of players, the boss confirmed a new arrival is not imminent.

“We have time to get an addition before the window closes,” he continued.

“I am still talking to a few. Options are open. They have been a lot of phone calls and a couple of meetings but nothing definite.

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“We are hopeful but there is nothing definite yet.”

Meanwhile, Whitney said talks are still on-going with out-of-contract Matt Preston – with the boss looking to get some of his younger players out on loan before re-signing the centre-back.

“Matt is still not sorted,” Whitney added.

“I am hoping he can still maintain his fitness with us. I think I need to try and look at a few loans for my younger players before I can get Matty in.”

Joseph Masi

By Joseph Masi
Football MMPJ - @josephmasi_star

Football journalist for the Express & Star covering Walsall FC.

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