Michael Flynn urging ‘frustrated’ Conor Wilkinson to be patient in his comeback



Posted Sunday, March 19, 2023 by PA

Michael Flynn urging ‘frustrated’ Conor Wilkinson to be patient in his comeback

Walsall boss Michael Flynn revealed he is having to convince Conor Wilkinson to take baby steps in his return from injury after the striker hit his first goal in a year to clinch a 2-0 win over Gillingham.

Wilkinson hit double figures in his first season with Walsall last term but was out for eight months with an ACL injury and has mostly had to make do with substitute appearances since his return.

But, after Isaac Hutchinson opened the scoring, Wilkinson came off the bench to seal the points with a fine solo effort in stoppage time as Walsall ended a 12-game winless run in League Two.

“Conor’s been frustrated – he thinks he was going to pick up where he left off and he can’t,” Flynn said.

“He has worked so hard to be back earlier than expected and I’ve had to explain to him that you’re not going to come back the player you were, not straight away, it’s a long time out.

“I’m getting through to him and he finished his goal excellently, good skill, neat footwork but in terms of what I want week in, week out and what he thinks he can do week in, week out, it’s different.”

Walsall’s play-off push has faded since 14-goal loan marksman Danny Johnson returned to parent club Mansfield in January and they ended a 468-minute home drought with Hutchinson’s opener.

“That’s 15 clean sheets now, we’ve been solid for 90 per cent of the season and we just needed to take some chances,” Flynn added.

“I’m just pleased we’ve won. There were a lot of pleasing things and I can have a sleep tonight. The lads have been absolutely fantastic and it’s already an improvement on last year.”

Gillingham, meanwhile, remain seven points above the relegation zone after only a third defeat in 13 games but failed to register a single shot on target.

“The lads have been brilliant – 24 points from the last 12 games before today,” said boss Neil Harris.

“But I thought we were poor in training on Thursday and I warned the players that when you go so well for so long, there is that little lull somewhere, so I’m hoping that’s it today.

“I’ve given some gentle reminders of responsibilities and standards I expect, so it’s down to them to respond individually and collectively but they have done great for us, they have been terrific.

“I’ve had a few choice words to say to the lads. If we are off it by five per cent we can lose games of football at this level.

“When we are at full pelt, the concentration, the focus, the discipline, the organisation and the squad togetherness is there, we are a match for anybody.

“I’ve had my say to the players and now I expect a response on Tuesday against Crewe.”

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