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Dean Keates is looking to raise training tempo at Walsall

Boss Dean Keates will ramp up the tempo of training again this week as Walsall’s schedule begins to settle down.

Boss Dean Keates has had an ‘intense’ start
Boss Dean Keates has had an ‘intense’ start

Last week was the Saddlers’ first without a Tuesday night game since the opening week of the season.

Keates admitted the ‘intense’ start to the season, including Carabao Cup and Checkatrade Trophy ties, meant that training last week was restricted, as the coaching staff explored different tactical options.

But, after Walsall tasted their first defeat of the season against Doncaster on Saturday, the boss will look to raise the tempo of training at Essington this week.

“It’s been quite intense and it’s something we have to manage,” Keates admitted.

“It’s something I look at with Nick (Barnett, strength and conditioning coach), in the sports science, he has a massive input and it has kind of been about bringing the training loads down and not pushing them too much.”

Walsall played nine games in 29 days in a busy start to the campaign.

Keates continued: “It makes sense (early season midweek games).

“It’s not ideal but it makes sense, because you never know what the winter is going to be like.

“It’s not just that we went Saturday to Saturday, we’ve still had to manage the week to make sure we don’t push them too much.

“Then this week we’ll raise them back up as they’ve had a bit of a tapered week.

“As a player you’d rather play, that’s my experience.

“But when it’s Saturday-Tuesday there’s a lot of recovery time in there, it affects what you can do on the training pitch.

“It was tapered but it was an opportunity to work more on the tactical side.”

The Saddlers boss stressed that there is nothing like playing in front of crowds.

“I was probably a better player than I was trainer!” he added.

“As a player you just loved playing and I’m sure players are still the same now.

“You enjoy that challenge of crossing the white line, be it 3pm or 7.45pm, you enjoy playing in front of a crowd.”

Keates returned to a 4-4-2 system with Andy Cook up front with Kieron Morris for Saturday’s defeat, with Connor Ronan and Josh Gordon returning to the bench in a change of system.

“We are flexible, we’ve got options and a fully-fit squad to pick from,” he continued.

“Adding the two Connors from Wolves, especially Connor Ronan, gives me the option to tinker things and play with different formations.

“It’s a good headache for me and a challenge for the players. We have to make sure they’re bang at it Monday to Friday.

“When they get the opportunity they have to stake their claim. There’ll be tactical changes over the course of the season.”

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