Dean Keates: Walsall under no illusions
Boss Dean Keates says Walsall are under no illusions when it comes to the importance of their next two fixtures.
The Saddlers, who sit five points above the relegation zone in League One, travel to take on Oldham tomorrow before then hosting AFC Wimbledon at the Banks’s on Saturday.
Both those teams currently sit below them in the table and, like Walsall, are fighting to stay in the division.
And while his team beat Bury on Saturday in another relegation six pointer, Keates said that hasn’t changed the significance of the next two games.
“We knew we were coming into a batch of fixtures where we have the chance to pick up points against teams below us,” he said.
“If I’m being honest, the situation we are in as a football club, if we had got anything out of Wigan and Portsmouth they would have been bonus points.
“But we know this batch is where we need to pick up points and that is why we were delighted with Bury.
“The lads new the importance of that game. Bury was our biggest game of the season but it’s gone now. Oldham has now become the biggest game.”
Keates replaced Jon Whitney as Walsall boss last month and with the transfer window having closed was unable to freshen up his squad.
But he insisted he now sees the players Whitney signed as his own players.
“These are my players,” the 39-year-old said.
“I have come in, it’s all new and I am accountable for everything at the football club.
“The players know I have to get the best out of them for the good of this football club.
“If they want to be a part of it going forward they have to perform.”
Keates also revealed he was impressed with the performance of Liam Roberts against Bury – with the keeper pulling off a number of good saves to help them to a 1-0 win.
“He is young lad in goalkeeping terms,” the boss added.
“But in the first minute against Bury he has pulled a great save off.
“It would have been quite easy for him to just be taking everything in.
But he showed great mental strength and produced some off good saves in the second half. He did well.”