Andy Cook eager to fire Walsall to safety
Andy Cook is determined to repay manager Dean Keates’ faith in him by scoring the goals that keep Walsall in League One.
Keates is coming under mounting pressure from fans following a run that has seen the Saddlers lose eight of their last nine games.
That form could see them slip into the bottom four tonight with relegation rivals Oxford, Bristol Rovers and Rochdale all in action.
In what has been a disappointing campaign overall, Cook has been one of the few bright spots having so far scored 16 goals in all competitions.
The striker is currently enjoying his first season in the Football League having previously scored goals for fun in non-league.
But he is fully aware it was Keates who gave him his big break. And he is now desperate to score the goals that will keep the 40-year-old in charge at the Banks’s Stadium.
“He (Keates) did not have to bring me here,” Cook said.
“He took a chance on me – I had never played in the league before.
“I never doubted myself that I would get goals. I never doubted myself.
“But I needed someone to take that chance on me when others haven’t. He did that.
“I’ve scored the goals to prove I can do it – but I need to repay him by scoring the goals that keep us in the league.”
After waiting years for a shot at playing in League One, Cook doesn’t want to end the campaign with a relegation on his CV.
“I’m in League One now and I’m here to stay, I do not want to be relegated,” the 28-year-old continued.
“I want to stay in League One with Walsall.
“Me and the rest of the lads are going to put up the fight needed to stay in the league.
“We have definitely got players who want to fight for the cause.
“There is no player in that dressing room that is just happy to come along for the ride. We are all desperate to go out and win games. That is what we have to do now.”
Meanwhile, defender Nicky Devlin says Walsall need to ‘man-up’ as they prepare to face relegation rivals Bradford on Saturday.
The Saddlers now have just 13 games to avoid falling into League Two. And with Bradford’s lowly position in the table, Devlin admits Saturday’s visit of the Bantams is a relegation six-pointer.
“All 13 games are huge but because of where Bradford are in the table it adds a bit more to what it means,” the Scotsman said.
“They will be coming to us and looking to beat us and drag us right in there at the bottom.
“It’s a massive, massive game and it’s time to man up.
“We’ve got to look at ourselves and the time for talking is over. We have to step up because this run of form has gone on far too long.”