Walsall are warned to brace for battle against rock bottom Rochdale
Jon Whitney has warned Walsall to brace for a battle when they host rock-bottom Rochdale tonight.
The Saddlers boss believes his players will need to match the fight of a visiting team who arrive at the Banks’s desperate to breathe life into their struggle for survival.
Keith Hill’s Dale are 12 points adrift of safety at the foot of the table and have won just five times in the league all season.
But tonight’s game is one of several they have in hand over those teams above, while they showed their potential in taking Premier League Tottenham to a replay in the FA Cup.
Victory would move the Saddlers into the top half, but Whitney said: “I’m expecting it to be tough.
“Keith has come out and said how they’ve punched above their weight these last few years, and they’ve done incredibly well with the resources they’ve got to work with.
“I watched both games against Tottenham and I thought they gave a good account of themselves, and the replay was always going to be a difficult task.
“One thing Rochdale don’t do is lie down. They’ll fight and while there’s a chance (of safety), they’ll fight with their games in hand. And listen, it can be done if you get yourself on a run. They’re a thoroughly professional club and do things the right way.”
Walsall will assess the fitness of Albion loanee Jack Fitzwater after a back injury, sustained during the pre-game warm-up, forced him to miss Saturday’s 3-0 win at Southend. The performance of his replacement Kory Roberts was later hailed by Whitney and the youngster may well keep his place on merit.
Joe Edwards is meanwhile set for surgery on the knee ligament injury which prematurely ended his campaign.
Scans confirmed the 27-year-old has a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and is facing several months on the sidelines. Whitney said: “He is in next Monday to have the operation and then we’ll look at his rehab from there and start to push him.”