Committed midfield battler Vela has been a mainstay of the Town side this season and assistant boss Aaron Wilbraham admitted the former Bolton man has been one of the more consistent performers since Steve Cotterill’s appointment, writes Lewis Cox.
Vela insists Town owe a performance against Wigan tonight after Saturday’s disappointment against Doncaster.
But, with six games left of the season and thoughts beginning to turn to next term, ‘team player’ Vela – who won awards at Bolton but not from just missed out on a fans’ gong, coming second – admits recognition would be welcome.
Vela, 27, said: “I’m more of a team player but obviously it’s nice to read stuff like that, people appreciate the performances I’ve been putting in.
“It’s nice to read but I’m not really too bothered.
“I feel like it’s one of the better seasons I’ve had for a few years, hopefully I can get back to the level I was at Bolton at one point and help try to get Shrewsbury promoted.”
He added: “It’d be nice to get player of the year but I’m a team player – but I wouldn’t mind getting the award!
“I had a couple at Bolton, maybe, but not off the fans, I don’t think.
“Definitely (it would mean more from the fans), yeah, it’d be nice to get it from the fans because it shows they appreciate it and that I’ve played well.”
Former boss Sam Ricketts brought the midfielder to Shrewsbury from an unhappy spell in Scotland with Hibernian, where the Salford-born star was homesick.
Ricketts, who played with Vela and Bolton and gave a three-year deal to the midfielder, said he could be one of the best midfielders in League One.
And Vela has started delivering on that high praise since Cotterill’s appointment. Stand-in boss Wilbraham has called him the team’s ‘Duracell Bunny’ and Vela is highly valued by his Meadow team-mates.
But the midfield man is part of a Shrews side looking to show a response from back-to-back defeats as relegation-battling Wigan head to Montgomery Waters Meadow this evening.
The resurgent Latics have won three on the spin, lifting them clear of the drop zone.
Since reaching 50 points at Gillingham two Saturdays ago, Town have gone down to successive defeats against Oxford and Doncaster, conceding six goals in the process.
Salop can all-but mathematically secure their place in League One next season with a win tonight. Three points would mean the Latics would trail their hosts by nine points with three games left and a hugely inferior goal difference.
Vela said: “We were disappointed with how we lost and played.
“We’ve got to fight back against Wigan, we need to show a reaction because Saturday wasn’t good enough from anyone. Everyone’s got to take it up a level.
“We can’t do that (let it fade away), the manager won’t allow that, we can’t let the the game slip by, if we do then we’re in for a big shock.
“We can’t let it peter out, we might as well not turn up if we do that.”
Wilbraham revealed to the Shropshire Star that wing-back Josh Daniels, who has missed a number of weeks with a calf injury, is out running at Sundorne Castle as he attempts to return before the end of the season.
Defender Aaron Pierre (also calf) is a little further behind. Midfielder Sean Goss and striker Rekeil Pyke, who missed Saturday with muscle complaints, will not be involved again tonight.