A 15-game unbeaten run in the final third of last season until a final-day defeat at Crewe was almost enough to see Walsall reach the League One play-offs, which they missed out on by three places and just six points.
Attacking trio Will Grigg, Jamie Paterson and Febien Brandy were pivotal to this charge as they were responsible for 38 of the club’s 65 League One goals, with only 12 players in total on target for the Saddlers.
However, with these three stars now departed, it is hard to fathom anything but a struggle for Walsall and 9/4 looks more than fair value that they suffer relegation to League Two.
Grigg has left for Brentford, former Manchester United youngster Brandy also remains in League One at Sheffield United despite offers from clubs in the Championship and Paterson has opted to climb the football pyramid through joining Nottingham Forest.
The largely inexperienced Troy Hewitt has arrived, but the bigger expectation will fall on the shoulders of Milan Lalkovic, who has been brought in on loan from Chelsea following similar spells at ADO Den Haag and Vitoria de Guimaraeas.
Manager Dean Smith is also optimistic that further new recruits will join before the start of the season, but it is unlikely that there is serious money to spend, despite fees around six-figures being received for Grigg and Paterson.
Prior to last season’s improved effort, Walsall had escaped the drop by no more than two places in the previous two campaigns and this was largely due to a lack of a stand-out scorer. Midfielder Julian Gray was the only player to reach double figures in this period.
It could be a similar story in the upcoming season in terms of a struggle for a regular source of goals and this must put Walsall on the back foot in the battle for survival.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.