Walsall forward Kieran Phillips is ready to tackle any challenges he may face while at the League Two club this season.
The 21-year-old is on loan at the Saddlers from Championship side Huddersfield Town, where he made 10 substitute appearances during the 2020/21 campaign.
He made his Terriers first-team debut against Reading in January 2021 after scoring seven goals in eight games for their B Team.
Phillips has contributed to four of Walsall’s goals so far, scoring three in all competitions to become their top scorer while also providing one assist.
Despite his impressive start, the Saddlers are struggling at the wrong end of the table. Matthew Taylor’s men are one point above the relegation zone in 22nd place, with just two wins from their opening nine games.
However, Phillips has already faced adversity early in his career. After moving to Everton’s academy from Huddersfield before returning to West Yorkshire, he suffered a double knee fracture which ruled him out for two-and-a-half years.
Phillips is hoping that the difficult times are now behind him.
As per the Express & Star, he said: “I tried to come with an open mind.
“No matter what gets thrown at you on or off the pitch, you can deal with it then. That’s definitely what I’ve done.
“Any adversity, you’ve just got to keep working hard and keep on grafting.
“Anything that pops up, you have to keep an open mind and deal with it accordingly.
“Football is a rollercoaster. You’ll have a lot of good times, and you’ll have bad times as well. It’s about how you come through the bad that is most important.
“I’m hoping I’ve come through the worst of my bad times, and there’s many more good times to come.”
The youngster put Walsall ahead in Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat against Bristol Rovers but missed a one-on-one chance to make it 2-0 in the second half.
He is determined to improve his finishing and will hope to score his first goal away from home at Exeter City on Saturday.
“We’ve got to work on being more clinical,” Phillips said.
“That’s what I’ll be doing – working on my finishing and one-v-ones.
“I’m looking to be composed in front of goal and, hopefully, we can take our chances and not end up with results like that.
“I didn’t really do much wrong. I went for the far corner, but the keeper positioned himself well and made the save.
“So, we’ll all have a massive training week. We’ll give it our all and look to give a good reaction on Saturday for the travelling fans.”
Phillips is showing a mentality that could prove crucial to Walsall in a season that looks like they may be fighting relegation.
Not shying away from difficult times could also have a positive impact on his teammates. And if he continues to find the net, their survival chances will increase.