Express & Star

Walsall's Maz Kouhyar working to improve his game

MAZ KOUHYAR is working to improve every aspect of his game as he battles to become a first-team regular at Walsall.

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Maz Kouhyar

The 21-year-old has appeared 31 times for the Saddlers since making his debut against Chesterfield back in August 2016.

This season though, the winger is yet to feature in League One with Zeli Ismail, Josh Ginnelly and Kieron Morris currently ahead of him in the pecking order. But after impressing – and getting on the scoresheet – in Walsall’s Checkatrade Trophy win against Middlesbrough last week, Kouhyar is determined to force his way into the long-term plans of manager Dean Keates.

“The next step for me now is to get a regular place,” Kouhyar said.

“To do that I need to work on my all-round game. I’m not perfect at anything. In training and in the gym, I need to be better in all aspects.

“I need to be impressing when I get my chance and I need to be getting goals and assists.

“If I do that, the gaffer will give me a chance.

“It’s a squad game now and we are in a long season.

“Players can be off-form, players can get injured. I’ve got to make sure I am ready when my chance does arrive.”

As well as Ismail, Ginnelly and Morris, loanee Kane Wilson, who is primarily a full-back, has also played on the wing for Walsall this season.

But Kouhyar isn’t daunted by the competition for places.

“It’s a good thing and I’m enjoying learning from them,” he continued.

“The competition is good because you always have to be on your A game. You can’t sit off.

“If I want to get in the first team I have to work harder and play better than the people in front of me.”

Kouhyar says the overall work ethic of Walsall’s team is the reason for their impressive start to the campaign.

“We work very hard,” the winger said. “We do a lot in training and I feel like it’s paying off. All the lads are really tight. There are no groups, everyone is close with each other and I think it’s showing on the pitch.

“When someone loses the ball, we don’t get on each others back. We try to help each other.

“And then afterwards, if you need to say something, you can say it.”

An Afghanistan international, Kouhyar believes playing for his national side is also helping his development.

“The next squad will be announced in November so hopefully I will get called into that,” he added.

“I enjoy international football, I feel I get a lot from it.

“You get to travel the world – to places I’d never normally go.

“But it’s a different style of football as well.

“A lot of the players speak German and speak Dutch so it’s good getting used to different people and different styles of play.”