“Martin is happy with the home draw in the FA Cup but expects a stick from Walsall.”

SAINTS manager Russell Martin has admitted he expects some toughness from Walsall after a short spell at the Saddlers five years ago.

The manager signed a contract with League One Walsall as a player-manager in October 2018 but ended his contract by mutual consent just eight weeks later.

Under coach Dean Keates, the team were fifth in the division after twelve games when Martin joined, but won two of fifteen and dropped to sixteenth place by the time of his departure.

Boss Keats remained an admirer of Martin and cited family reasons as a key factor in his departure. Instead, he later joined MK Dons in January 2019.

Walsall will now visit Martins Saints in the third round of the FA Cup, with their former player’s side unbeaten in 18 league games.

Looking to the future after the draw, Martin told the Daily Echo: “A home draw is great.”

Daily Echo: Russell Martin became manager of next club MK Dons later that year

“Because it’s Walsall, I was expecting a lot of knocks in the eight weeks I was there, but it didn’t work out for either side.”

“But especially after a difficult period, you want to get a draw at home, so we will have to wait and see.”

Martin’s coaching career began at Bescot Stadium in Walsall, where he has since managed MK Dons, Swansea City and Saints.

Earlier this week Martin visited Norwich City, the team he managed, and will play again against Swansea later this month.

On leaving Walsall, Keates said: “Russ has been a fantastic professional for us both on and off the pitch since he arrived.”

“Obviously we’re disappointed to see him go, but the travel is starting to get to him and he’s now at the point where he has to put his family first and do what’s best for them.

“I would like to thank Russ for his dedication during his time here and wish him all the best in the next phase of his career.”

The Saints will be looking to avoid a third successive defeat to League Two opponents following cup exits against Grimsby Town and Gillingham.

Author: Author: Alfie House
Source: Daily Echo

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