Santa Hutchings no presents today

AIDY Boothroyd may have once received generous Christmas gifts from Walsall counterpart Chris Hutchings but he knows it will be a different story today.

Stuart Watson

By Stuart Watson

AIDY Boothroyd may have once received generous Christmas gifts from Walsall counterpart Chris Hutchings but he knows it will be a different story today.

The Colchester United boss was once a young apprentice on the books at Huddersfield at the same time defender Hutchings was a key part of the Terriers team during the late 1980s.

“When I was an apprentice at Huddersfield, I used to look after his boots and he used to give me generous Christmas tips,” recalls Boothroyd.

“And as I remember he used to spend a lot of time on his hair which, in those days, was long flowing locks!

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“He's a good guy and I think he's been unfortunate in terms of the time he has taken over other clubs in the past.

“I'm pleased to see he has got back into the game very quickly and we know that Saturday's game is going to be very tough.”

Since hanging up his boots, Hutchings has managed Wigan and Bradford in the Premier League, stepping up from assistant manager to take over from a sacked Paul Jewell on both occasions, while he was once again Jewell's number two at Derby for the first half of last season.

He was appointed Walsall boss this January and guided the club to a 13th place finish in League One last season,

The West Midlands club are currently 11th in the table and are just two points off the play-off places following an impressive 3-0 victory over Exeter at last Saturday.

They have also beaten Huddersfield Town this season and gained credible draws against Swindon, Norwich and Southend, leaving Boothroyd wary of their threat today.

“On their day they can beat anybody - they've proved that,” said Boothroyd. “They're a side that are hot and cold so we've got to make sure we impose ourselves on them and make sure it's a cold day for them.

“We've got to take all the lessons learned from our last eight games and use them to try and start another eight game unbeaten run.

“There are no easy games in this league though and that was proved to us last week. We know we have got to be absolutely on our game to get anything out of any of our games.”

Walsall will be forced into making at least one change from last week's side following the news that Irish keeper Rene Gilmartin tore his hamstring in that match and will be out for at least three weeks. He will be replaced by Clayton Ince who will make his first start since the Saddlers drew 0-0 with Gillingham at the end of August.

On-loan Manchester City defender Clayton McDonald - who towers in at 6ft 6in - could return to the side after he missed last Saturday's game with a groin injury.