Oldham Athletic face ‘massive test’ when Walsall come to town, says Latics boss Lee Johnson

By Matthew Lees

Oldham Athletic face a tough challenge against Walsall according to manager Lee Johnson as his side prepare to open their home campaign in Sky Bet League 1.

The Saddlers will travel up the M6 having won their first two matches of the season to face an Athletic side who also tasted victory on the opening day of the season.

Having lost in the Capital One Cup during midweek to Derby County, Johnson believes Oldham will have to focus on the positives to do well against Walsall.

“Walsall had a really good season with the budget they had, and have started this one well,” he told the club’s website.

“Sometimes people look at the finances and think they will not be very good, but they are well drilled, fit and energetic side which plays good football and it will be good to see how we do against them.

“They are a good side and I don’t believe there will be many sides which will finish ahead of them.

“It will be a massive test for us, though there were a lot of good things about the performance against Derby, even though we lost. “

Latics have doubts over youngsters Jonson Clarke-Harris and Kirk Millar giving Charlie MacDonald the opportunity to return to the starting line-up after missing out on Tuesday.

However, Johnson is excited by the prospect of what his young team could achieve starting against Walsall – who have only won once at Boundary Park since they were relegated to League One in 2004.

“There is a lot of potential and we are certainly putting the work and effort in to improve,” he added.

“That is something we have to do because we don’t have the luxury where we can buy in 11 players who are in their prime and who are proven in this division.”

Former loanees Sam Mantom, who had a spell at Boundary Park in 2011, and goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell , who played four times in 2008, may feature along with ex-skipper Dean Holden who made 113 appearances.

The fixture, Oldham’s first league home game, is a repeat of last season’s league opener at Boundary Park but only 11 of the 26 who played that day are still available.

Image courtesy of Mjm1ect, with thanks.

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