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INTERVIEW: Coley previews Walsall

Reds boss looks ahead to busy Christmas period

21 December 2023


INTERVIEW: Coley previews Walsall

Reds boss looks ahead to busy Christmas period

21 December 2023

John Coleman is confident his younger players can make an impact as Accrington Stanley begin the busy Christmas period facing Walsall at the Wham Stadium on Saturday.

The Saddlers are currently in 15th place in League Two and have won their last two league encounters while Stanley are in ninth spot, one point off the Play-Off places.

The Reds manager has an injury crisis to contend with, with Matt Lowe, Seamus Conneely and Rosaire Longelo, the latest three to be in the treatment room adding to Josh Andrews, Korede Adedoyin, Seb Quirk, Liam Coyle, Toby Savin, Liam Isherwood and Sean McConville.

However, Shaun Whalley, Tommy Leigh and Kelvin Mellor are back in the frame for the clash with the Saddlers.

Coleman said: "Losing Matt is a blow for himself and the team. He has been struggling with his hip for a while, he was nearly in tears on Saturday after the game, he has played through the pain barrier and you can’t ask for much more.

"It had to be addressed, he is having his operation today and we wish him a speedy recovery and hope he is back before the end of the season.

"Seamus is three or four weeks out and Ros is seeing a specialist today and he might need an operation.

"But we can't be harping on about injuries, it can't be our primary focus. We are not going to use it as an excuse, hide behind it or focus on it.

"It's a wonderful opportunity for other players to grab a chance to play in the first team and players in the past have gone on to cement a place in the first team having been presented with an opportunity through injuries.

"We have to focus on the players who can play and what they can do on the pitch.

"We have no problems fielding a team and a full bench, we will use youth players if necessary.

"I am pleased with the attitude the youth team players show, a lot have trained around the first team and they know the ethos and standards so playing for our first team isn’t a shock to them.

"We have had some good success stories and hopefully there will be many more.

"Alex Henderson has took to it like a duck to water and people have to try and emulate him."

Stanley's front line is low on numbers with top scorer Andrews and Adedoyin in the treatment room.

"You have to adapt the style of play to suit the players you have.

"Josh Woods has been standing in and doing it well. He would like more goals, it was great to see him on the scoresheet on Saturday, and you can never fault Josh's effort and that's why he is a crowd favourite and a great lad.

"Other players who can play up front are Shaun Whalley, Jack Nolan, Tommy Leigh, Joe Pritchard, young Leslie Adekoya, Owen Devonport and Lewis Trickett. We have forwards so it’s not a crisis."

Coleman has got over the disappointment of Saturday where Stanley took the lead in added time against Crewe but the Railwaymen scored with virtually the last kick of the game in a 3-3 draw.

"It was a good performance on Saturday, even though it was disappointing on the day.

"A point at Crewe becomes a better point if you beat Walsall, we know we have the capabilities to beat any team in this league.

"Young lads often suffer from lack of consistency. It's something we have to overcome, we have to keep playing to our maximum for as long as we can."

Walsall beat Notts County and Tranmere in their last two league games as they look to climb the table.

Coleman continued: "I have watched videos on Walsall, we know what they are about and how they play.

"Teams get on runs and it's up to others teams to knock them off the runs.

"There are no guarantees in football, a bounce of a ball here or there can alter the course of a game.

"We will do our due diligence on them, but we have to focus on ourselves. Over last six or seven weeks I have seen a marked improvement in our style of play. Our build-up play is better, we are making more chances and we look like scoring.

"We are desperate to get to 50 points and then start looking at, 'can we make everyone’s season and get to the hallowed turf of Wembley and win it?'"

The full pre-match interview video with John Coleman is available to watch on the club's official YouTube channel, CLICK HERE to find out more!

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