Town’s boss was last week assessed by his specialist as he continues his recovery in Bristol from a severe bout of Covid-19 and subsequent Covid-pneumonia.
The 56-year-old has been gradually increasing his walks, with his strength growing by the day. Town players have noted how their boss, who spent almost 50 days in Bristol Royal Infirmary Hospital, is sounding stronger over the phone.
And Cotterill has been praised as a star patient by his specialist, but also been reminded to take his recovery period slowly, which the manager is obliging, in the hope of avoiding any further health setbacks.
The former Bristol City boss has been calling the shots from afar, but Shrewsbury have not put a timeframe on the manager’s full return to work. He has missed 16 games while in hospital and at home, with 11 games left of the League One campaign.
“He’s getting stronger, walking bigger distances,” said Cotterill’s No.2 and stand-in boss Aaron Wilbraham. “He had his follow-up appointment last week with the specialist who has been looking after him and she said she wants 99 out of her 100 patients to have the attitude that the gaffer has in wanting to do more.
“But he’s the one person out of 100 who needs to slow down and take it easy.
“So he’s doing that, he’s doing everything right, he doesn’t want anymore setbacks, there’s not been anymore setbacks which is good, but he’s trying to increase everything as slowly as he can.
“He’s finding the whole process slow and frustrating, but he knows he needs to follow the guidelines of the specialists who he really trusts. I just spoke to him a minute ago and he’s out walking and getting stronger each day.”
Wilbraham, who thrived as an influential centre-forward under Cotterill as the duo won a memorable double at Ashton Gate in 2015, added: “It’s hard for him to hear and take ‘take it easy’ because it’s never been his style, but as much as he wants to do more, he doesn’t want anymore setbacks.
“I’m not saying for one minute he’s got setbacks because he’s done more, but he’s the kind of person that wants to do more and push himself. But he’s doing everything by the book.”
Town’s record without the manager in person is highly creditable. They have taken 22 points from a possible 45, pulling away from the dangerzone, rather than letting his absence unravel their season.
Coaches Wilbraham and David Longwell have put a large part of the team’s recent success down to the manager going above and beyond from afar.
Town, 17th and 10 points clear of the drop, face an Easter double-header at Northampton and against Plymouth on Friday and Monday.
Wilbraham said of the lasting effects of the manager’s health on players: “Nobody expected the gaffer to be as ill as he has been and even us who speak about it quite a lot don’t realise how ill the gaffer’s actually been,
“Our lads have been good since the start, They turn up to train and have separate marquees to get changed.
“We had the outbreak so we know the situation, but with the gaffer’s situation it’s probably made the players more aware, because nobody wants to be in that position again.”