Joe Edwards: Walsall cranking up their own pressure
Skipper Joe Edwards says Walsall are under no illusions when it comes to the importance of tomorrow’s clash against Bradford.
A dreadful run of eight defeats in nine outings has pushed the Saddlers to within two points of the relegation zone in League One.
But Dean Keates’ side now have a huge opportunity to turn that form around when they host fellow strugglers Bradford tomorrow.
The Bantams sit second bottom in the table and have won just one of their last seven games.
Keates himself has described the game as Walsall’s ‘FA Cup final’ with the boss admitting his team are running out of time to turn things around. And Edwards believes it’s right not to downplay the importance of tomorrow’s game.
“We spoke about the importance of the game in depth after the loss at Coventry last weekend,” the 28-year-old said.
“Sometimes you try and downplay the pressure on games but we felt this week that we really wanted to build it up. We want it to have that sort of FA Cup final feel.
“We know it is a massive game for us against Bradford. We have trained hard all week.
“And now we have to have 11 players who go out on Saturday and do their bit. Each of us can be the hero if we want to be.”
While the pressure is on Walsall, Bradford’s position in the table means they too enter the game under the weight of expectation.
And Edwards feels it’s important he and his team mates remember David Hopkin’s side is also struggling for confidence.
“It is a big game for them as well and that is something we have to look at,” the midfielder continued.
“We are ahead of them in the table and that’s got to give us some self-belief going into it. They would rather have more points on the board and not be in the position they are in so they are going to be the same as us.
“They are going to want to put their mark on the game.
“They are a good side with some good players if you let them play their own game.
“But we have to make sure we put our stamp on it.”
Keates told his players on Monday that nobody’s place in the team was guaranteed this weekend – with everyone having to earn their spot in training.
“The gaffer said to us we had four days to do as much as we could to get selected,” Edwards added.
“The competition in training has been very good. Everyone is really up for it, it has been 100 per cent every day and that means we will go into the game with 11 very motivated players and another seven on the bench who wish they were playing.
“Now is the time where you have got to stand up and be counted and we have all been trying to do that this week. We are making sure everyone knows how big a game Bradford is.”