Sam Ricketts: Shrewsbury will look to attack Oxford
Sam Ricketts has pledged that Shrewsbury are ‘not going to Oxford to defend’.
The free-scoring and high-flying U’s welcome Town tomorrow on a run of 10 league matches unbeaten – 17 in all competitions with the exception of EFL Trophy penalty shootout defeats.
Shrews boss Ricketts, who returns to the club he grew up with as a teenager, believes Oxford – second-highest scorers in League One just behind Peterborough – are the best team in the division.
But the Welshman is not interested in sending his resolute side to the Kassam Stadium just to defend, instead sensing Town can make things difficult for a side who have won their last four home league games 3-0.
“We’re capable of a performance and we’ll see what we get out of it,” said Ricketts.
“We’re hard-working, well organised, you need a bit of luck and we need to try to impose ourselves on Oxford as well.
“We’re not just going there to defend, far from it, we want to impose ourselves and cause them problems.
“I think we can be a little bit more front-foot, go for Oxford more, I think they have certain vulnerability and we can impose ourselves.
“We’ve got some very good players in good form and we’ll try to get them in the game as much as we can and create chances.
“There are certainly chances there to be created and it’s just whether we can take them.”
The hosts are without stalwart goalkeeper Simon Eastwood (knee) and were bringing in an emergency replacement today.
Karl Robinson’s side will also miss specialist defensive midfielder Alex Gorrin, who is serving a one-match suspension after five bookings.
“I remember speaking to a few managers last season and they said Oxford have the best squad and should be doing far better,” Ricketts added.
“It’s not a surprise they are where they are, it’s just a surprise they haven’t been there more regularly really.
“They’ve got good players and are spending to get back in the Championship. They’re consistent, unbeaten in 17 and on a good run.
“They’ve been chopping players in and out as well, it’s not just been an 11, they have a group to keep the momentum rolling.”
Ricketts revealed that attacker Shaun Whalley has been ‘back on the grass’ in some light training but was still rated as doubtful to feature at Oxford.
Norwich loan man Louis Thompson will also miss out, but Town are hopeful he will return for the following weekend’s visit of Coventry.