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Darrell Clarke: Walsall should embrace clash with Aston Villa

By Joseph Masi | Walsall FC | Published:

Manager Darrell Clarke believes Walsall’s friendly with Villa is a game to embrace as the Saddlers prepare to welcome Dean Smith back to the Banks’s Stadium.

Darrell Clarke

Clarke’s side host Premier League Villa tomorrow night in what is their only friendly on home turf this summer.

The game will also see former boss Smith return to the Banks’s four years after he left for Brentford.

And Clarke is looking forward to locking horns with him.

“It will be good seeing Dean Smith I know Deano very well,” the 41-year-old said.

“He has done a fantastic job there.

“Villa is a game to embrace for sure.

“We will have a good attendance and it’s our only friendly at home.

“But as I’ve said throughout pre-season, we are working towards that opening day.

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“We still want to add a couple of players and when we do we’ll be in pretty good shape.”

Villa have sold out their 4,100 ticket allocation for the game. And yesterday Walsall announced they will open the middle and upper tier of the HomeServe stand due to demand – with Saddlers fans able to buy tickets on the night.

One player Clarke is hoping will feature tomorrow night is goalkeeper Liam Roberts.

The shot-stopper missed the friendlies against Odra Opole in Poland and at Notts County with a thigh problem.

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“He (Roberts) has got a very slight thigh problem,” Clarke said.

“We’re hoping he is going to be okay for Wednesday.

“He isn’t a long-term one as it stands.”

Meanwhile, Clarke says he will continue to chop and change formations when the new campaign gets underway.

The Saddlers have lined up in a host of different systems throughout the course of pre-season.

“I like to have an adaptable squad – I think that’s important,” the boss added.

“I look at each game as a project. I look at everything. That is what I have always done.

“And I like to have players who can play in different formations and different systems.”

Joseph Masi

By Joseph Masi
Football MMPJ - @josephmasi_star

Football journalist for the Express & Star covering Walsall FC.

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