Barker wary of tough Walsall test

Billy Clarke is again a doubt
Billy Clarke is again a doubt

Reds will be desperate to end a run of just one point from their last five league games this Saturday, though boss Richie Barker knows they face a tough test against a talented Walsall side.

Crawley stopped the rot after four straight League One losses by nicking a point at Carlisle United last weekend.

But having watched The Saddlers impressively beat Peterborough in mid-week to confirm their play-off credentials, Barker knows his troops will have to be at their best.

He said: “I thought they were excellent, they moved the ball around very quickly, good work ethic and they’ve got some real youthful enthusiasm.”

And he added: “It’s about points and yes we’re hoping after what’s happened over the last two weeks with the Hednesford game and the Carlisle game has changed the mind-set and moved us forward, but we won’t know that until after the two home games.”

Walsall have one of the best defensive records in League One, especially away from home, and Barker knows his opposite number Dean Smith well having played against him numerous times and begun their coaching qualifications together.

The Crawley boss though should have a full squad to choose from, with none of the side affected by a sickness bug which laid out ten of the under-18 squad earlier in the week.

Top scorer Billy Clarke though is again unlikely to start as he recovers from a knee problem, though Reds will hope he could have a similar impact from the bench having earned them a point at Brunton Park.

Kyle Bennett will not feature having returned to parent club Doncaster Rovers on Thursday when his loan deal ran out.

Saturday’s League One match against Walsall at the Checkatrade.com Stadium kicks off at 3pm. For match-day pricing and info visit the club’s website.