FA Cup: Inside track on Shrewsbury Town
SHREWSBURY Town reporter for the Shropshire Star, Lewis Cox, has provided us with the full low-down on the League One outfit's season so far and what can be expected today, Sunday.
How do you summarise Shrewsbury’s season so far ?
Difficult and not what was hoped or expected. Town found wins and goals hard to come by in the early weeks of the campaign. Form has improved and they have started to pick up some positive results in League One but their wins have come at Montgomery Waters Meadow, with none on the road, which will no doubt provide Stratford some encouragement. The Bards may also note Town’s inability to keep a clean sheet. Shrews have managed just one shutout in all competitions this term. There is no doubt they have become a more settled side over the last half-a-dozen games or so and as a result performances and results have improved, but they still find themselves in the division’s bottom four, which remains a disappointment.
Do you think manager Steve Cotterill will rest players or not run the risk of an upset?
A little bit hard to say, but Shrewsbury’s first-team squad is pretty thin. Senior options are few and far between, there are probably no more than 16 senior players in the squad with a couple of youngsters who have broken through. Due to that Steve Cotterill will probably have to use a number of first-team regulars - and will also want to ensure there is enough quality and experience out there to avoid a highly embarrassing televised upset. But it could offer rare opportunities for the likes of loan pair Khanya Leshabela, a Leicester midfielder, and Birmingham frontman Sam Cosgrove. Forward Rekeil Pyke may also get a rare chance, so too highly-rated youngster Tom Bloxham, and Charlie Caton. Back-up goalkeeper Harry Burgoyne will probably be between the sticks. It’s a shame wing-back Josh Daniels will miss out with an ankle injury, while it is probably unrealistic that key man Josh Vela will return from a knee ligament issue in this tie.
Who are the stand-out players to look out for?
One of Town’s form players in recent weeks is Luke Leahy, a summer signing most known for playing on the left but used in central midfield of late, mainly due to a lack of bodies. He has been excellent in the role and really added something to the side, including goals - he has four in seven league games. Striker Ryan Bowman recently bagged a League One hat-trick but it is unclear whether he or first-team partner Daniel Udoh will be given a run out. Bloxham, mentioned above, has been excellent in league action this season. The 17-year-old has proven himself something of a revelation and could be destined for big things, I’d expect him to play. Town are not blessed with many options at the back and generally play with a back three, which means any of Matthew Pennington, Ethan Ebanks-Landell, Aaron Pierre and George Nurse - who have all been first-team regulars - could feature.