Express & Star

Walsall v Crewe - Match preview

Michael Flynn admits the next few weeks are big for Walsall but does not believe they will define the season.

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The Saddlers are heading toward the festive period in impressive form and keen to push further up the League Two table, after a six-match unbeaten run which has put them within three points of the play-off positions.

Tomorrow’s visit of Crewe – should the match survive the cold snap – is followed by a trip to Swindon, before fixtures against Stockport and Mansfield round off the year.

Flynn knows there is an opportunity for his team to strengthen their position heading into the second half of the season but is experienced enough to know nothing will be decided by January.

“It is a big period but it won’t be defining,” he said. “We could win five in a row, for example, and be in the top three but that doesn’t mean we are going to finish third.

“Even if we lose the next three I am not going to be too disappointed because I know how long a season it is and how many twists and turns are still to come.

“Even if we win 10 in a row, it still only gets you enough points for mid-table. All it does is make you safe.

“We just have to keep going, game by game, team by team. Crewe have a new manager come in, who has just been nominated for manager of the month.

“Then it is Swindon away, always tough, Stockport at home, who are on a very good run, then Mansfield at home.

“It is a big period but the next 12 games are big just because there is not much between the teams in terms of points. We are all there or thereabouts in terms of looking in the right direction.”

Conor Wilkinson could make his first appearance since suffering a serious knee injury in April. Flynn had been pondering whether to include the forward in the matchday squad at Stockport last weekend before the match was postponed due to a frozen pitch.

The Saddlers will gain further depth in the coming weeks with Joe Riley and Joss Labadie both nearing returns to fitness, while Flynn expects to make more additions in the January transfer window.

Labadie, like Wilkinson, has been out for more than eight months after knee surgery and Flynn has warned not to expect too much, too soon from those players coming back from serious injury.

He said: “They are still going to take time to get up to speed. Even if we get Joe and Joss back at the beginning of January they are not going to be ready till February.

“It is going to take four weeks just because of the time they have had out. Conor is back, he should be up to speed by January 1.

“Oisin (McEntee) still has work to do because he has not had much game time. There are still those we need to get up to speed but by the start of February, touch wood, we will hopefully be firing on all cylinders, along with a few additions too.”