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Former Sheffield Wednesday stopper aiming to keep Wolves from door in derby clash

By Walsall Advertiser  |  Posted: March 06, 2014

By MICHAEL BEARDMORE

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Richard O'Donnell knows Walsall's back-line will have to be at their best against Wolves.

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SADDLERS keeper Richard O'Donnell admits Walsall's defence must tighten up if they are to have any chance of completing a famous double over free-scoring, high-flying neighbours Wolves.

The Walsall back-line has been solid for most of the season but mistakes have crept in during the last few weeks as the Saddlers went through February without a win.

In that same timeframe, title-chasing Wolves have really found their shooting boots, firing themselves to the summit of League One with seven successive victories.

And O'Donnell said: "Results haven't gone the way we have wanted in the last few games but we know that if we keep playing as we have been doing, it will be fine.

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"It's just about doing the same things we've been doing all season but maybe just getting a bit more solid again at the back, getting back to how we were earlier on.

"But there have been some goals that we've been unlucky with and I don't think there is too much wrong.

"It's not all down to bad luck – obviously Saturday at Preston was one example where we conceded a sloppy goal (Paul Downing's bizarre own goal) that was our own doing.

"But then again we thought we were unlucky for the second goal where three of their players were offside and we had done everything right as a back-line.

"In terms of the first goal, things like that are going to happen at some point during the season – we've been solid for most of the campaign and things like that haven't happened before.

"The important thing was that we reacted straight away and equalised, and then we were upset by the manner of their second goal."

And despite injuries and suspensions leading to several changes of personnel in the back four recently, O'Donnell is refusing to use that as an excuse.

O'Donnell added: "It's not nice having injuries or people missing due to being sent off but I've said from the start of the season that whoever comes in can do a job.

"We have people coming in who are more than capable of reaching the standards that we have set ourselves."

The Banks's Stadium is set for a near sell-out for the Wolves clash, with Walsall attempting to complete the double over their local rivals after Andy Butler's winner handed them the points at Molineux back in September.

And keeper O'Donnell said: "I'm really looking forward to it – it will be good to see the Banks's packed as I haven't seen it since I've been here, in fact most of the lads haven't.

"I don't think it has been sold out for a number of years and there will be a great atmosphere with the club trying to get all the fans wearing red.

"We've played Wolves twice this season and we haven't been beaten by them (drawing 2-2 at Molineux in the Johnstone Paint Trophy a week before the 1-0 league triumph) so we know we are more than a match for them.

"They will come here upset about that result at their place and whether they think they have a point to prove, I don't know. But if we can do the double over them, it would be brilliant for everybody associated with Walsall Football Club."

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