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MacDonald and Smith meet again after 20 years
KEVIN MacDonald will come up against a familiar face in the opposing dug-out when he leads Swindon Town into action against Walsall this weekend.
The new Robins boss finished his career with the Saddlers in the early 1990s, playing alongside a fresh-faced Dean Smith - then an imposing centre-back, now working wonders in the top job at the Banks’s Stadium.
MacDonald praised his contemporary for his side’s remarkable recent run of results, which has included eight wins and just one defeat in 11 League One games, and he recalled how he felt Smith was always destined to enjoy success in the game.
“I finished my career at Walsall and a young lad that was coming through at the time was Dean Smith,” he said. “Dean had the potential to become a very good player and he did and played a long time and now he’s become a manager and is doing very, very well.
“They’re probably the form side in the league at this moment, winning all those games, so it’ll be a tough game but it’ll be nice to see one or two people I haven’t seen in a while.
“They’re doing great. I think Dean’s done a fantastic job and their players are playing well for them but we’ve got some good players and we’re not doing too badly over the whole season.
“It’ll be a good match-up, let’s hope we come out on top.”
Swindon were buoyed in midweek by defeats for fellow promotion contenders Doncaster and Brentford, and the Robins could go top of the table tomorrow if they win and results elsewhere go in their favour.
However, MacDonald was quick to stress that Town should only focus on their own run-in and not be too affected by the fate of others.
“The main thing for me is concentrating on our own results,” he said.
“We’ve got this game on Saturday and then if we can get the right result we look forward to the next game. You can only affect your own team’s performance and results.
“I’m a big believer that the more often you have a good performance the better chance you have of winning more games. You won’t win all the games but it’s trying to get those performance levels to a high level and sustaining it, and that will be good for me and the players.”
Saturday marks MacDonald’s home debut as Swindon manager, and he is hoping that the County Ground crowd will be as animated as those who travelled to Coventry were last week.
“I was pleasantly surprised at how vociferous they were at Coventry,” he said. “They can be a help because there will be occasions when the team becomes unstuck, when teams come and try to defend against us and they can get a bit frustrated.
“The players will get frustrated as well, so the fans have got to really stick behind them - as they did and I’m sure they will do.”
Miles Storey remains sidelined with a hamstring tear and Troy Archibald-Henville continues his recovery from a knee operation, while Aaron Oakley could be out for the season with a fractured foot.
“We have got the same squad as last week, everybody is fit and hopefully everybody will be desperate to try to get on the pitch,” said MacDonald.