Express & Star

Jon Whitney: Stay here to become history boys

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Boss Jon Whitney believes that Walsall have 'got it right' at the Banks's Stadium for players to win titles and go down in the history books.


The Saddlers chief was discussing the futures of several of his star men ahead of a busy summer, where most of Walsall's top players have their currents deals run to an end.

Despite hinting that members of the squad may look elsewhere for success in their careers, the former physio believes everything is in place for them to succeed at the Banks's Stadium.

Walsall had fallen to just one defeat in six League One clashes prior to last Saturday's disappointing 2-0 reversal at Bramall Lane.

But with games in hand on the top two and automatic promotion still in their sights, Whitney remains determined that – if the group continue to work together – the Saddlers can continue going from strength to strength.

He said: "I truly believe that if you can work in a collective – everyone has the chance to be successful and have a better career.

"Whether you want to win titles, earn more money or go down in the record books – whatever it is that motivates them – we have got it right at this club."

Whitney pointed towards the squad's unity and noted that it takes a specific type of committed team player to be a success for the Saddlers.

Seven of the 11 starters selected by Whitney in Saturday's defeat at Sheffield United have been at the club since before the summer of 2013.

And that togetherness is a key part of the Saddlers' impressive form that has seen them mix it with the big-hitters in League One this season.

Whitney's charges are eight points outside of the automatic promotion positions, with two games in hand on Burton Albion in second.

"That is why we have got a chance because we are a team. And if you don't fit into the team you are probably not going to be at the club," he added.

"Everybody is here for a reason.

"The players play for each other – they don't just do it for themselves. You can see that in how they celebrate."

A significant bulk of Walsall's first-team squad will see their contracts end at the end of this season.

Fifteen members of the squad – including first-team players Jason Demetriou, Andy Taylor, Paul Downing, Adam Chambers, Sam Mantom, Milan Lalkovic and Romaine Sawyers – will become free agents this summer.

Mantom, Downing and Sawyers have excelled in their time at the Banks's after being released from the Albion academy.

Anthony Forde, Reece Flanagan, Craig MacGillivray, Jordan Cook, Jordan Murphy, Amadou Bakayoko, Liam Roberts and Isaiah Osborne also have deals come to an end.

Whitney admitted that at times it is impossible to control the future when players are looking at their own agendas.

He added: "Everybody has got their own agenda but that's life – we all aspire to do different things. But the players know if you can do it for the group and your team-mates then individually you have a greater chance of success."