Express & Star

George Dobson: Friendlies the perfect preparation for Walsall

George Dobson believes friendlies against Stoke, Villa and Ajax have provided Walsall with the ideal preparation for the new season.

George Dobson in action against Villa

The Saddlers kick off the 2018/19 campaign in just 10 days time but first face Cheltenham in their final friendly of the summer on Saturday.

Dean Keates’ side were beaten by both Stoke and Villa but then went on to secure an impressive victory against Dutch giants Ajax at the Banks’s Stadium.

And Dobson believes his team have benefited from playing against bigger sides this summer.

“We could have played against teams you’d expect us to beat but you get a lot more from playing against top quality opposition,” the midfielder said.

“You can work on your distances and shape but it also builds up your fitness because you have got long spells without the ball.

“And that also helps improve your concentration.

“We lost to Stoke and Villa and beat Ajax but the results really don’t matter.

“If we had lost all five pre-season games and beat Plymouth on the first day, the preparation would been perfect.

“The important thing for us was they we were tested.

“We have done some things wrong. But we have been able to learn from that, we’ve looked back and seen where we need to improve.”

Dobson admits all the players are looking forward to the new campaign getting under way.

“Training has been very good since we have come back,” he added.

“Everyone is in good spirits and we’re all feeling confident heading into the season, we just want to get going.

“We’ve all been working hard so that when we get to Plymouth we know we’ll be ready.”