By Tony Leighton
From relegation candidates, to an outside bet for the npower League 1 Play-Offs in just five weeks - that is Walsall's terrific turnaround in a run that has seen them climb from the brink of the drop zone to within five points of the top six.
A winless sequence of 16 games, 13 of them in npower League 1, had the doom-mongers predicting a drop into League 2 for a young Banks's Stadium team which contains just a handful of older, more experienced players.
Seven members of the line-up that beat Bournemouth last week, making it six wins in seven matches for the rapidly rising Saddlers, were 21 or under with forwards such as Will Grigg and Jamie Paterson getting rave reviews.
But it's the old man of the side, 32-year-old midfielder Adam Chambers, who has been getting the plaudits from the players who are enjoying their great run, while remaining an unsung hero amongst supporters and pundits.
There are no complaints about that from the former West Bromwich Albion and Leyton Orient player, however.
Chambers told football-league.co.uk: "It's nice to be appreciated by the people you're playing with, but we all work together.
"Some of the young lads have got mature heads on their shoulders and they all think seriously about the game. I've been in the game longer so there are things I can say and contribute, but we all try to help each other.
"The whole team is playing well at the moment and if I don't get the headlines, that's part and parcel of football. I just have to do my job - keep it tight, give the ball in the right areas to the players around me."
Chambers is perhaps playing the best football of a career that has too often been hit by injuries, including a pulled hamstring that led him to missing several games in the current campaign before his return to pulling the midfield strings.
"I'm always trying to improve, to push myself to play better," he said. "I've had a few injuries in my career, but at the minute I'm playing at a good level and just trying to enjoy every game - the older you get the more you appreciate that!"
What Chambers, his team-mates and the Walsall fans would appreciate more than anything in the final four months of the season is a continuation of the team's fine run to put them in with a chance of reaching the Play-Offs.
That would be a hugely welcome change of focus after scrapping their way through relegation battles in each of the last two seasons. So, is a promotion push a real possibility? "It's too early to say," reckoned Chambers.
"We had a bad run of results and had a bit of a spell where confidence was low, but that's back now and everyone is playing at the top of their game. We just have to aim to keep that going but not look too far ahead.
"I know it's a cliche, but we just have to concentrate on the next game and that's against Colchester United on Saturday. If you look too far ahead it can bite you on the back-side, so we're just concentrating on the here and now."
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