Reece James reckons that the size of Sunderland’s squad will pay dividends come the end of the season. James has proved to be excellent back up for the injured Denver Hume and the suspended Bryan Oviedo, which I guess highlights our strength in depth, at left back at least. “There’s a lot of games to play with the league and then three cup competitions, so you need to make sure you’ve got a big squad. We’ve got that. Even with all the injuries, we’ve still got a very good side that can play league games and win those, and then go into the Checkatrade Trophy and still win those games too. Momentum keeps things going, so it’s about striking the right balance of keeping that, with also keeping people fresh. I think the manager has done that well. He’s brought in some young lads and given them the opportunity to be around the first-team squad and first-team games. I’m absolutely loving it here so far,” added James. “The club itself is unbelievable. You only have to look at the stadium and training facilities to appreciate how big it actually is. It should never be in the division it’s in, but it’s up to us now to get us out of it.”
In other news, Jack Ross has been chatting about Josh Maja’s development and although the manager admits that the youngster’s hold up play needs work, he’s delighted with his finishing. “We’ve said before that there are bits of his game that he needs to improve on but his goalscoring record is fantastic,” said Ross. “I was chatting to him before the Bradford game, I texted one of our analysts for the breakdown of his goals. I think it was 4-3 from left to right foot and a header. That’s brilliant, that’s not easy to do. I thought his goal against Peterborough was terrific. It doesn’t grab loads of headlines because it’s not top corner but if you see how he shifts it and where he puts it in the net, he’s so good at that. Scarily good actually. I keep saying, the goals he could get, at 19 it is brilliant, really, really good. He is judged by how many goals he scores and yes we know his retention of the ball can be poor at times but you have to remember he is only 19 and is still learning the game and he is improving. He will get stronger, that will come. One thing you can’t coach is scoring goals, he has a knack. He is comfortable with both feet, that is natural talent."
So, what do we know about Shrewsbury?
Between 1910 and 2007, the club was based at Gay Meadow. However, since 2007 the club have played at the purpose-built New Meadow, also known as Montgomery Waters Meadow for sponsorship purposes, with a capacity of 9,875. They’ve had a pretty mixed start to the campaign, having only won 2 of their opening 13 fixtures. These coming against Accrington Stanley and Gillingham. Their leading scorer is Lee Angol with 4 goals in all competitions.
As with most League one clubs recruitment form the lower leagues is paramount to their stability. Their manager, John Askew, discussed their recent transfer window activity. “Every player is a gamble, no matter where they’re from. There was a keenness for experienced League One players. Since then, looking at last season, players have come from lower levels with a hunger to play at a higher level. Last season proved that if you get a team of players together willing to work hard then you can be successful. The chairman discusses it all the time, we always need to shop in a different supermarket. If there’s a striker in League Two scoring goals every other week, the chances are another League One club will pay more than we can. That’s a fact of life, we’ve got a wage structure and we’ll always keep to it. That’s why our finances are in such good state. We’re realistic enough to realise that somebody will be able to offer far much than our wage budget can afford.”