Express & Star

Walsall vs Tranmere Rovers – George Bennett's predicted line-up

Walsall will be aiming for back-to-back league wins for the first time in over three months when Tranmere Rovers visit the Bescot on Saturday.


The Saddlers backed up their comeback win at Notts County last weekend by progressing to the FA Cup third round with a 1-0 win over Alfreton Town on Tuesday.

Danny Johnson was on the bench in the cup and is set to be available for selection after training this week, although Ross Tierney has been ruled out until New Year with a hamstring injury.

George Bennett predicts the starting line-up Mat Sadler could select.

Jackson Smith

Owen Evans is nearing a return but is still a doubt for the weekend.

Smith has boosted his case in the short time he has had to prove himself - keeping a clean sheet in both games against Alfreton and making an important near post save in the victory at Notts County.

The former Wolves goalkeeper has also began to impose his authority when claiming long balls, and has grown into a commanding force on the defence.

David Okagbue

Okagbue has had a few nervy moments in a Walsall shirt but it’d be surprising to see Sadler change the back line.

A three-man defence appears to be the way forward right now, and the Stoke loanee is a young defender still learning the ropes in the EFL.

Harry Williams has been included in the past four squads and will be eagerly looking to seize his chance if it comes.

Priestley Farquharson

Farquharson looks set to remain a fixture in the defence as long as he stays fit.

His debut campaign has been marred by injuries but he looks a reliable and solid figure whenever he has played.

He has showed good co-ordination with Donervon Daniels of late, and his return has provided the Saddlers with a major boost.

Donervon Daniels

Daniels has started every game for Walsall in League Two this term.

He experienced a difficult period during Walsall’s six-match winless run, but looked back to his best at Notts County.

His driving runs forward were a key feature of Walsall’s play, and even helped set-up the winning goal for Oisin McEntee.

Tom Knowles

One thing Knowles will guarantee is a willingness to cover ground relentlessly down the right.

He did exactly that at Meadow Lane, and marshalled the double threat of Aaron Nemane and Dan Crowley impressively.

Brandon Comley

Comley enjoyed arguably his best performance of the season in Nottingham.

His selfless play and astute reading of the game created space for others, most notably McEntee, to break into attacking zones.

It’d be surprising to see him lose his place, although Jack Earing and Ronan Maher are possible options if Sadler decides to play McEntee and Ryan Stirk as a double pivot.

Oisin McEntee

McEntee was purely viewed as a defensive midfielder when he made the switch from centre-back to the heart of midfield.

But his two goals at Notts County, and his second half performance at Salford in September suggest he’s capable of becoming a dangerous box-to-box midfielder.

He will be one of the first names on the team sheet at the moment.

Ryan Stirk

Stirk has played more minutes (2,138) than any other Walsall player during the current campaign.

He produced a strong performance in his last league outing, and is likely to make his 21st successive start in League Two.

Liam Gordon

Gordon has been one of Walsall’s most consistent performers under Sadler.

The left-wing back role suits him well, and his assist for McEntee’s equaliser last weekend is further evidence of the quality he can provide going forward.

Isaac Hutchinson

Hutchinson was left out of the starting XI for just the second time in the league this season against County, and was named on the bench once again in the midweek win over Alfreton.

Ross Tierney’s hamstring injury saw him introduced in the 33rd minute at Meadow Lane and he responded admirably to set-up the decisive goal.

A straight swap for Tierney looks the most logical option for Saturday, although Maher and Earing are possible alternatives.

Freddie Draper

It felt as if Draper had been playing at 70 per cent against Forest Green and Barrow.

But his performance against County suggested he is beginning to get back to his best.

He also got a rest in midweek and I'd fully expect the Lincoln loanee to lead the line again this weekend.