DONCASTER ROVERS: Confident O’Kelly eyes Saddlers improvement

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GIVEN the meagre resources manager Dean Smith has at his disposal, Walsall are unlikely to be competing in the upper reaches of League One come next May.

But assistant manager Richard O’Kelly sees no reason why the Saddlers can’t defy the odds and improve on their final league position of 19th in the 2011/12 season.

The former Rovers No 2 has told The Star: “You never know what you can achieve in this game. If Chelsea can win the Champions League, I think anything is possible.

“We have got a good mix of young and experienced players here. We are looking to develop players so we won’t get too down if things go against us and we won’t get too excited if things go for us.

“Our preparations have gone well over the summer so we are looking forward to the new season.”

There has been a major turnover of players at the Banks’s Stadium. One of Walsall’s new recruits, Ashley Hemmings, grabbed the winner as the club booked their place in the second round of the Capital One Cup last weekend by beating Brentford.

O’Kelly expects League One to be competitive, saying: “Everything is being diluted down the leagues so players from the Premier League and the Championship are coming down to this level.

“The quality is improving all the time and it is just a really tough league to try and get out of.

“It is always tough when you play a team who have come down but, at the start of the season, everybody fancies their chances.”

After narrowly staving off the threat of relegation last term, Saddlers defender Dean Holden is confident the club can flourish this time around.

The former Chesterfield ace said: “We’ll win the league or anything but we’re in sport and football and we’re here to win games.

“It’s game by game and the way we keep the ball I think we can have success. We want to finish as high as we can.

“When we go to the so-called bigger teams, with the way we move the ball and keep it, there will be a lot of pressure from their own fans and I’m sure that’s where we can exploit them.

“Brentford was the first game of the season, no matter what competition it was. It doesn’t matter how we went about it, we needed to win to get a good start. If you lose then everyone is down but as it is everyone is coming in buzzing and looking forward to Saturday.”