Max O’Leary staying neutral ahead of Shrewsbury Town FA Cup replay
Goalkeeper Max O’Leary insists he is remaining neutral for part two of the ‘weird’ experience of facing his parent club.
The 23-year-old Shrewsbury Town loan shot-stopper will again watch on from the sidelines as he is ineligible to line up against Bristol City in the FA Cup.
O’Leary travelled with Town and caught up with Robins team-mates at Ashton Gate 10 days ago as Joe Murphy helped Sam Ricketts’ men to an impressive performance and 1-1 result.
But the keeper remained firmly on the line when speaking about where his loyalties lie with a foot in both camps.
“I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be good for them to see where I’m plying my trade. Obviously it’s a bit weird but both teams will want to win,” said O’Leary.
“I’ve got to stay neutral, it’s a weird one – no-one really talks to you. I’m looking forward to it.
“It was alright! I went in neutral clothes in the end in my ‘civvies’.
“It was good to see everyone, I hadn’t been back down to the club since being up here. It was good to see familiar faces and catch up.
“A few of the boys were texting me saying ‘come in’ and I was like ‘no – I don’t know if I should!’. I saw them but kept out the way of their pre-match stuff.”
Ricketts’ men were unfortunate not to confirm their place in the fourth round with an impressive display at Ashton Gate, where they created more than the Championship outfit, who are just one point off the play-off spots in their division.
O’Leary added: “We played really well. It was fine margins.
“We deserved the replay at the very least. Both teams have got that bone (a tie against Liverpool) to try to get in the next round.
“It’s a busy time of year but you want to play every game you can. It’s frustrating but I’ll try to enjoy it as much as I can.
“There’s a good carrot there – we’ll leave it at that!”
The ‘carrot’ lying ahead of both Town and the Robins is a date with Liverpool later this month.
For Shrewsbury to seal their place in the next round against the Reds they will require O’Leary’s stand-in, experienced goalkeeper Murphy, to keep out Lee Johnson’s talented and expensively-assembled visitors.
O’Leary said of his Shrews colleague: “We spend a lot of time with each other in training and I speak to him for advice.
“When you know you’ve got someone who is that good coming in it puts you at ease. It’s good competition and makes you feel better.”