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Walsall's Dean Keates set to make changes in Trophy

By Joseph Masi | Walsall FC | Published:

Dean Keates looks set to ring the changes as Walsall prepare to take on Burton in the Checkatrade Trophy.

Dean Keates

The Saddlers head to the Pirelli Stadium tonight on the back of a run that’s seen them play eight games in 31 days.

Competition rules state Keates can switch his goalkeeper and make four outfield changes for matches in the controversial competition.

But any players signed on loan from Category One academies can also be selected.

That means Kane Wilson, Connor Ronan and Connor Johnson could also come into the side without breaking any rules – with Keates admitting he will rotate his squad.

“I don’t think it’ll just be us, I think everyone will make changes,” Keates said. “I will look at it and try to balance a few minutes and give some lads some playing time.

“We have to make sure if someone drops their performance or we don’t have the best of runs, then people are ready to come straight in.

“I’ve got players who are chomping at the bit to play. They want an opportunity.”

Walsall and Burton have been drawn in a group that also includes Port Vale and Middlesbrough under-23s.

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And Keates says whatever team he picks will be going to the Pirelli to win.

“For us, it’s a football match and we want to win every single football match,” he continued.

“I’m confident in the squad and whatever team I pick, it’ll be competitive – we’re going there to win the game.”

The Checkatrade Trophy has been steeped in controversy ever since the Football League allowed clubs from the Premier League and Championship to enter under-23 teams.

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But in 2015 the competition gave Walsall their first ever trip to Wembley.

And Keates says he knows how special that is after being part of the Wrexham team that beat Grimsby on the hallowed turf in the FA Trophy back in 2013.

“The end result of the competition massive – it’s an opportunity for players to play at Wembley,” the boss added.

“I didn’t go personally when Walsall got to the final, but I had family members who went – I knew a lot of people who were there.

“I’ve been fortunate to play there as a player – in the FA Trophy.

“That opportunity to play at Wembley is something you don’t always get.

“And that is why we’ll go into every game looking to win.”

Meanwhile, Keates confirmed he expects Josh Ginnelly to be fit for the weekend after he missed the Blackpool game with a minor knock.

“Josh is very close.” the manager said.

“Blackpool was maybe a day or two too early. He’ll train this week and I’ve got no doubt he’ll be available at the weekend.”

Joseph Masi

By Joseph Masi
Football MMPJ - @josephmasi_star

Football journalist for the Express & Star covering Walsall FC.

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