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Preview: Walsall (H)

Wilbraham could return

By Oli
April 25 2009

Dons could welcome both Aaron Wilbraham and Peter Leven back into the fold for Saturday's crucial home match against Walsall, but both will face stiff competition for a starting place as Roberto Di Matteo has almost a fully fit squad to choose from.

The void left by Wilbraham has been more than adequately filled by Ali Gerba, who has bagged two goals and an assist having been handed four consecutive outings. Leven faces the challenge of replacing one of Stephen Gleeson or Luke Howell, who have formed a quick, combative central midfield pairing. 

Both Gerba and midfielder Luke Chadwick, who has also enjoyed a return to form with two goals in those same four matches, sat out training on Thursday but this is believed to be purely to keep them fresh for Saturday's match. Sam Baldock returned from the bench last weekend against Scunthorpe United and is fit for selection. Tore Andre Flo is also back and only short of match fitness, adding further competition for a starting place in attack.

Danny Swailes remains a long-term absentee with an achilles injury.

Walsall are missing defender Stephen Roberts who has undergone an operation for a back injury, but otherwise have a full squad to choose from. Right-back Rhys Weston has shaken off a groin strain while goalkeeper Clayton Ince as well as Dwayne Mattis, Netan Sansara and Richard Taundry all came through a midweek reserve game unscathed. Sofiane Zaaboub will play through the pain of a broken finger.

The importace of this game for the Dons doesn't really need reciting, but the situation is that if MK can win their remaining three games, Peterborough have to drop points in one of their remaining two fixtures for the Dons to steal the second automatic promotion spot. Winning those three is going to take an extremely good run of form however as the Dons will have won seven on the trot if they come through their next three.

Walsall's season is over as they sit safely in 14th place, away from the relegation dogfight but with too much ground to make up for a push for the playoffs. Their form has maybe suffered as a result with only one win in their last five, a 3-2 victory over Stockport County. 

The two sides have followed each other up and down the divisions in the last few seasons, with both suffering relegation to League Two in the 2005/06 season. Walsall recovered, winning League Two the next year, but Dons finished 4th and couldn't come through the playoffs, losing their semi-final against Shrewsbury. The two sides shared the points that season in a 0-0 stalemate at the Bescot Stadium and a 1-1 draw back in Milton Keynes, Izale McLeod bagging his 20th of the season before now Peterborough midfielder Dean Keates equalised.

There are no former Dons in the Walsall squad but winger Mark Wright will be hoping to get another victory over his former club after the Dons took a comfortable 3-0 win in Birmingham earlier in the season. Wright got the third goal that day following Jemal Johnson's screamer and a brave header from Gerba.

The referee for Saturday's match will be Mr K G Evans. Mr Evans is on his second season in the Football League and has mainly officiated League One and Two games this season, with one Championship match probably his highlight. Last season he oversaw our 5-0 home demolition of Accrington Stanley. Mr Evans will be assisted by Mr L M Collins and Mr M F Thompson, and the fourth official will be Mr J G Comley.

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Preview: Walsall (H)
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25/04/2009 12:31
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