The current Walsall boss was Ling's assistant during his time in charge of Leyton Orient. Recently, Ling had been working for the Midlands side as a scout and says that the pair will be well-versed in their opposition teams' strengths and weaknesses.
“Me and Dean go back a long time,” he smiled. “We were players together at Orient and Dean was my assistant manager for nearly all my tenure at Leyton Orient and we had good success. We went our separate ways when I went to Cambridge and Dean became youth coach at Walsall but his career has gone on massively from that youth coach’s position.
"We have the same philosophy and the same thinking about the game because we did it together for five years. Obviously we’re close friends and it wasn’t just a working relationship. Our families know each other, we often see each other. My daughter lives in Coventry and sometimes he looks after her – she’s a university student.
"We had our last conversation on Sunday – we speak most days if I’m honest - and we said we’d see each other Tuesday. It would only be an awkward conversation picking each other’s brains. He’s a valued friend but he’ll be a valued enemy come tonight."
He added: "He’s got them (Walsall) in a very false position – what I mean by that is their budget is minimal. If not the worst in the league then close to the worst in the league and he always overachieves with their budget. He has got them flying and they’ve been very good away from home. I know quite a lot about them because I worked for him doing opposition match reports so he often said to me “where’s the weaknesses of other teams?” and “where can our strengths can hurt them?” so I know everything about them but he’ll know enough about us. He was here last Saturday when we beat Scunthorpe so he’ll have his own information on us. Let the best man win!”