As far as Paul Devlin is concerned, Kevan Broadhurst is the man to take Walsall forward whatever the outcome of this difficult season.

However, don't assume that Devlin is throwing in the towel with Walsall entrenched in the bottom four, far from it.

The Saddlers embark on a run of three consecutive home fixtures in seven days that will have a pivotal bearing on their future. Bristol City, Bourne-mouth and Port Vale all visit Bescot, as Walsall seek their first home win of 2006.

A trip to Doncaster rounds off a quartet of games that, according to Devlin, need to yield nine points.

Such is the log jam at the foot of League One that Walsall are only one point adrift of safety; but if they have yet to record their first home win of 2006 by the time they travel to Belle Vue they can virtually open the relegation trapdoor themselves.

Broadhurst, who is on contract until the end of the season, has garnered six points from his first half-dozen games in charge; he will need to double that tally if Walsall are to have a chance of survival.

However, he has made an immediate impact on the 33-year-old. "I knew Kevan from my time at Birmingham City, but I hadn't worked with him closely until he took over here," said Devlin.

"But I have been very impressed. His knowledge and coaching have been first-class.

"It is difficult for him because his hands are tied to a certain degree and he has had to make do with what he has inherited.

"He has only been able to add Steve Claridge.

"Nevertheless, even if the worst case scenario should happen and, God forbid, we are relegated, I still think he is the No 1 candidate for the job. I am sure he will make a success of it in the long term."

Meanwhile Walsall have today announced a new away stand sponsorship deal with one of the town's most successful companies Homeserve plc until at least the end of the 2006-07 season.