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Matt Taylor: Walsall will learn from defeat to Villa

Walsall boss Matt Taylor urged his players not to get disheartened after their 4-0 friendly defeat to Villa.

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The Saddlers head coach found plenty of positives despite the scoreline as his team battled hard against Premier League opposition.

A first-half double from Ollie Watkins and second half strikes from Jaden Philogene-Bidace and Aaron Ramsey saw the visitors run out comfortable winners.

But the hosts still put in a big-hearted performance in what was their second meeting with top flight opposition in five days, after Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace.

Taylor, who has already signed 11 new players since taking charge in May, accepts it will take time for his new-look team to find their feet. Yet he has found no shortage of encouragement in the attitude of his players.

He said: “The players are a bit down at the moment but I have told them when they turn up for training in the morning, I want them all to have a smile on their face. We are building toward August 7 and that is the main aim.

“This has given us a lot to learn from. This is a new group of players, a new group of staff and new ideas and it is going to take time.

“You can see a team giving it 100 per cent out there for the shirt. Some of the blocks, some of the tackles and the recoveries were excellent.

“There are things we can work on. We have worked the players really hard coming into this fixture and were they fresh? Definitely not. Villa fielded two complete XIs.

“For our players to be able to pit themselves against Premier League teams in the first two friendlies I think is fantastic. We will leave no stone unturned.”

Last night’s match drew an attendance of 6,562 to the Banks’s, the biggest crowd in two years.

Taylor added: “When you walk out, like I did for the first time, and see fans back in a football stadium, it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

“From that perspective it was excellent. It was brilliant for the players to be exposed to that.

“Emotionally it will have been a long time since they have played in front of a crowd like that.

“In terms of the game, I thought Villa were excellent. For us it gave us an opportunity to spend long periods of the game out of possession.

“There are areas we need to improve on but let’s be frank, this is our second pre-season game. I am not bitterly disappointed. We have conceded four goals and the players are quite down about that. But Villa were excellent.”