Jon Whitney: Walsall boss wants players to feed off any nerves like 'fuel'

Jon Whitney (right)
Jon Whitney (right) has won five of his eight games in charge since taking over at Walsall

Manager Jon Whitney says his Walsall players must use any nerves as "fuel" to propel them towards automatic promotion from League One.

The third-placed Saddlers are three points behind Burton Albion in second with a game in hand and a slightly better goal difference.

"The players have put themselves on a pedestal," Whitney told BBC WM 95.6.

"They have to live up to that expectation and our players are good enough to cope with the demands."

Walsall face a potentially season-defining week when they take on play-off contenders Bradford City on Saturday before their game in hand, at home to relegation-threatened Shrewsbury Town next Tuesday.

"I've said to the players they must not let anxiety sap the energy from them - they almost have to use it as their fuel now," said Whitney. "But we're going to revel in it and try to enjoy it."

With the race for promotion to the Championship set to go to the wire, Whitney admits he has examined every possible thing he could do to try to bring an extra edge to the Saddlers' threat.

"We want to win things and, of course, I think about what else I can possibly do over these four games just to help them recover, or take the pressure off and help them with coping strategies," he added.

"We have to cope with the expectation now from some parts of the crowd.

"Momentum comes with confidence and we must not over-think things, we need to keep things instinctive."

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