Walsall at Wembley: Sam Mantom keen to put right painful season

Walsall midfielder Sam Mantom
Sam Mantom has scored 11 goals in 96 Walsall appearances since first arriving in March 2012

Walsall's Sam Mantom has a chance to line up in the first Saddlers team ever to play at Wembley when they take part in Sunday's Johnstone's Paint Trophy final against Bristol City.

But the 23-year-old midfielder admits there were times when he wondered if he would return from the knee injury that has sidelined him most of the season.

"It's been very tough. A real slog. The toughest time of my life," he said.

"There's no problems with the knee now. But you do worry," Mantom told BBC WM.

"I'm not going to lie. There were doubts, especially when it goes past the five-month stage and there's still no light at the end of the tunnel. You do wonder what's going to happen.

Baggies old boys on show at Wembley
Sam Mantom is one of five former West Bromwich Albion players in Walsall's expected team for Wembley - along with centre-half Paul Downing, twins James and Adam Chambers, and midfielder Romaine Sawyers.

"There were days when you come in and do the same all over again, and all you're thinking is how to do something about the pain in your knee."

The former West Bromwich Albion youngster, who returned to first-team action against MK Dons last weekend, continued: "It's the biggest injury I've had in my career so far. I've been missing seven or eight months.

"But I have another year next season on my contract, which was always a comfort. And it's fantastic to be back out there. I'm really buzzing."

While Mantom hopes to play at Wembley, Walsall manager Dean Smith has had injury worries this week over 16-goal top scorer Tom Bradshaw (hamstring) and left-back Andy Taylor (calf).

Having rested the pair for Tuesday's 1-1 home draw with Sheffield United in League One, Taylor trained on Friday and now looks likely to report fit on Sunday, but Bradshaw remains a doubt.