David Davis raring to make up for lost time after a long wait on Shrewsbury Town return
David Davis has had to be patient, but should finally be able to resume his Shrewsbury Town career tonight.
The former Birmingham midfielder checked in on January 15, but is yet to make an appearance for his new club, writes Lewis Cox.
Davis, nicknamed ‘Digga’, was signed too late to feature in Shrews’ return, in the FA Cup at Southampton, and missed league clashes against Sunderland and Peterborough as he had to self isolate having been in contact with a positive Covid-19 case.
But while furore whipped around social media yesterday as Town’s hunt for new additions went right up to the wire, the Shrewsbury’s third January addition made his impression in training at Sundorne Castle.
The midfielder, who turns 30 this month and signed a six-month deal, joined in his first Town session as Aaron Wilbraham and David Longwell rallied the troops for a second home game in four days – hoping for the same outcome as Saturday – with Crewe this time the visitors.
“He trained really well and looked sharp after the break he had, so that’s good,” Wilbraham said of Davis, who had a loan spell with Town in 2011 and played under absent Town boss Steve Cotterill at Blues. “The good thing with the squad is that it has good balance now and there is competition for places.
“Digga is a great lad, even in training earlier he gets the ball and he’s a proper leader.
“He’s asking for the ball, he just demands high standards, you can just see he’s a good leader that is going to be great for us in the squad and team when he plays.”
Davis’ last competitive appearance came for loan club Charlton last February before the Covid shutdown.
But the midfield battler’s base fitness has won praise from Town’s stand-in boss, and who was impressed with the authority the midfielder showed in training.
Wilbraham said: “The type of professional he is, he wants to play every game and you can see that, his fitness is a joke, I spoke to AJ (Andy Johnson) the fitness coach about him, he had him at Birmingham and knows what he’s all about.
“He looks after himself really well, but off the pitch he’ll be supporting the boys and rallying the boys, it’s always great to have those people in your squad.”
Wilbraham, 41, said yesterday Town players had joked he would be dusting off his boots as an option if no new additions arrived up front.
Visitors Crewe, promoted from League Two last season, arrived in Shropshire for tonight’s rescheduled contest that was initially set for January 2. Town cannot climb any higher than their current position of 17th with a win, but four of the five sides immediately above them have played three more games.
The Railwaymen, meanwhile, are a very respectable 10th after their promotion under ex-Town defender David Artell.
They are still inside the top half after just one win from seven, in a run that has also consisted of four draws.
Shrewsbury put five points between themselves and the drop zone with Saturday’s deserved victory over Peterborough.
Town’s aim remains survival but, as Wilbraham points out, most pleasing to absent boss Steve Cotterill is how his side are taking on information and the manager’s style.
“Every team’s aim when they start the season is to get to that safety barrier, but when the gaffer took over he just wanted to install his beliefs and standards into the team and I think he’s done that,” said Town’s No.2. “The boys have bought into it, for the manager to have seen it going in the right direction is the most pleasing thing, because the performances have been right it’s bringing the points.
“It adds to the tally and we’re climbing in the right direction, a lot of teams have different games in hand because of Covid but we can’t really look at games in hand.
“We’ve got to keep taking each weekend and Tuesday night. There’s a lot of games in February, we’ve got to get as many points as we can.”
Wilbraham admits that taking his first steps into management – on an interim basis – during unfamiliar times has been eye-opening.
The former striker, a League One player with Rochdale just last season, is relishing the role thrust on to him and understood to be enjoying every moment.
The recently-appointed assistant had to be reminded several times by the fourth official to remain in his technical area. Prowling the touchline was something Wilbraham didn’t plan, but something he believes he has inherited from the boss.
“It’s really strange without the fans, no-one likes it and it’s not ideal but we have to get on with it as professionals,” he said.
“We have to create our own atmosphere in the dressing room and on the pitch, communication can be a lot easier (now).
“The gaffer pretty much coaches from the sidelines through the whole game, whereas usually you might take a break and sit down because with the crowd you can’t hear.
“I’ve not been a stand-in manager before, I’ve found myself standing up through the whole game, I hadn’t planned to do that, but you can really help the players, especially on the side of the pitch you’re near.
“The manager didn’t tell me to do that, I just feel like the gaffer keeps the boys going – I’ve noticed that when he’s been here – I’ve tried to carry it on. I think it’s something you can do when there’s no crowd about.”