Unbeaten in three League One games, Walsall will be able to field their strongest team when they travel to meet promotion-chasing Millwall at the New Den on Saturday (3pm).
Top-scorer Michael Ricketts has completed his five-match suspension, and was given a warm-up in Wednesday night’s reserve match with Port Vale in the Potteries.
And there was an additional boost for manager Chris Hutchings when first choice keeper Clayton Ince returned from World Cup duty with Trinidad and Tobago and midfielder Mark Bradley came back unscathed from two games with the Welsh U-21 side in the UEFA U-21 championship.
All three players were missing when the Saddlers were held to a 1-1 draw by bottom-of-the-table Cheltenham Town at Bescot last Saturday, and they will be hoping to start against third-placed Millwall.
The Londoners must be dreading the arrival of Walsall because a former Saddler, Clive Platt, stunned them at the New Den on Tuesday night when he headed the winner for Colchester United.
That put a big question mark against Millwall’s automatic promotion hopes, because they have picked up just eight points from a possible 27 at home since Christmas.
Saddlers’ boss Hutchings and his assistant, Martin O’Connor, watched the Millwall-Colchester match, so they will have their plans in place to collect their second successive win in the capital. They beat Leyton Orient 1-0 at Brisbane Road on March 21.
Now Hutchings has to decide whether to recall Ince, Bradley and Ricketts to the starting line-up, or begin with them on the subs bench.
Ricketts, in particular, will be a little rusty after watching the last five matches from a seat in the stands.
I wouldn’t blame young keeper Rene Gilmartin for failing to prevent Cheltenham’s early goal on Saturday, but I expect Ince to replace him tomorrow.
Gilmartin said: “I was absolutely delighted to be playing again. I’m ready and just need to get games under my belt. I’ve said from the start that I’m an ambitious guy and want to push Clayton for the first team spot.”
Robin Shroot has returned to Birmingham City a little disillusioned after failing to make the Walsall starting line-up during his month on loan. He went on as sub five times.
All Walsall’s remaining six games are against teams above them in the table, and Hutchings said: “It will be a good test to see how far we have come, then we can assess at the end of the season where we might be next year.”
Millwall could be without influential striker Gary Alexander who picked up a knock against Colchester, and Neil Harris is also ruled out. Walsall left back Paul Boertien, who missed the Cheltenham game through injury, may be sidelined again.
The Saddlers team at the New Den will be chosen from: Ince, Gilmartin, Weston, Smith, Gerrard, Palmer, Nicholls, Mattis, Hughes, Bradley, Zaaboub, Ibehre, Deeney, Ricketts, Taundry, Craddock, Bacchus.
* Walsall FC pulled off an amusing April Fool’s Day joke on Wednesday by announcing that assistant manager Martin O’Connor had returned to the playing ranks and would be in the squad at Millwall. Sky Sports swallowed it and used the story.