Walsall's search for players continues apace. The Saddlers sent a three-strong delegation to Worcester City on Monday night to watch Chippenham Town's highly-rated James Constable, writes Ian Clarkson.
Manager Paul Merson and his right-hand man Mick Halsall, along with chairman Jeff Bonser, were all present at St George's Lane to watch the Southern Premier Bluebirds' FA Cup replay with City.
Merson was there to take another check on striker Constable. However, on an ill-tempered night, Constable showed himself to have a short fuse, and was taken off with just less than half-an-hour to go after being booked for dissent.
Merson is looking to build on his team's recent run of form, which has seen them win three of their previous four games. A major factor behind their upsurge has been the loan acquisitions of midfielder Eric Skora and
goalkeeper Joe Murphy and Merson is looking to improve from a position of strength.
However, while he is delighted with his two new temporary signings, he is at pains to admit that recalling Ian Roper into the back line has given the team a more solid look.
The towering central defender made his first start of the campaign against Doncaster and it is no coincidence that their fortunes have improved dramatically.
"There's no doubt we've looked more solid," said Merson.
"He's helped changed it round with his never-say-die attitude and his defending.
"He's one of those players who puts his head down, doesn't talk to anybody, gets on with his training and goes home.
"But, on the Saturday, you also know he's one of those who'll run through a brick wall for you and that's what you want in your team.
"It's just a shame we've had to wait this long for him to come back but, if we can keep him fit until the end of the season we've got a chance."
Merson added: "I'd like to keep Joe Murphy but I can't see Sunderland allowing it. Their keepers are having a bad time up there and Joe could do just as good a job as any of them.
"Maybe I might be able to call him back on loan but, in the second month, they can call him back at a day's notice.
"That's a bit of a dangerous game to play but Joe will play while he's here. Andy Oakes has had a keyhole operation and he should now be back in two weeks. It's a bit of a Lazarus scenario, really; he might even be all right for the FA Cup game [against Yeovil at Bescot on December 3].