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Cambridge v Walsall: Trophy test a chance to bounce back

After a disappointing weekend, Walsall now have the task of beating a League One outfit to keep their place in the EFL Trophy.

The Saddlers’ 1-0 loss at Carlisle on Saturday was a day to forget in many respects.

But tonight, while it certainly will not be easy, offers Matt Taylor’s lot the opportunity to bounce back.

Cambridge United, who won their group, are the opponents in the round of 32.

The hosts are the favourites to go through and move a step closer to Wembley.

However, Walsall – while this competition is not high on every fans’ priority list – will be out to, at least, put in a better showing than they managed at Brunton Park.

Veteran full-back Stephen Ward says they will work ‘extremely hard’ for those who make the trip to the Abbey Stadium.

“We’re disappointed that we let the fans down on Saturday, but we hope they stick with us,” he said.

“We’ve got a great group of lads and some really talented players in there.

“Our spirit never goes. We know where we’ve let ourselves down as a team and as a squad, so we’re going to work extremely hard.”

Walsall have made changes in the Trophy so far and are expected to do so again, with Saturday’s FA Cup second-round tie with Swindon worth bearing in mind.

Cambridge are likely to rotate their squad, too, as they face either Exeter City or Bradford City in the Cup this weekend.

Both teams will be able to make use of a Trophy rule amendment which allows them to make five substitutes instead of three.

That has been brought in for this round and will stay in place for the rest of the competition.

Ward wants to progress in it, too, as he added: “We want to do well in every competition. You want to win every game.

“Cup competitions are big for the fans, and they’re big for us all as players.

“We’ve got the FA Cup coming up as well and the chance to get through to the third round, where there could be a really big game for the club.

“We want what the fans want as well.

“We’re gutted for them after the performance on Saturday. We want to give them more days like they had at Port Vale.”

In terms of team news, Zak Mills may have some sort of involvement for the Saddlers.

The utility man returned to training last week and while he was unable to play at Carlisle, he may be fit enough to make tonight’s squad.

Liam Kinsella may also be given minutes as he works his way back from a knee injury.

Winger Brendan Kiernan, who was absent at the weekend, remains a doubt with a foot problem.

Tyrese Shade, Kieran Phillips and Ash Taylor might fancy their chances of getting a start.

Second-choice goalkeeper Jack Rose will hope to carry on his run of starts in the competition as well.

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