Shaun Whalley aiming to be a central figure for Shrewsbury Town

Shaun Whalley says he is enjoying pre-season and feeling as fit as ever as he bids to shine in a central role for Shrewsbury this season.

Shaun Whalley of Shrewsbury Town and Jason Oswell of AFC Telford United. (AMA)
Shaun Whalley of Shrewsbury Town and Jason Oswell of AFC Telford United. (AMA)

The 33-year-old has spent the vast majority of his career playing on the wing or up front.

But since the arrival of Steve Cotterill as boss, Merseyside-born Whalley has adapted his game to play as an attacking central midfielder in the manager’s preferred 3-5-2 system.

The former Luton man impressed in the role once again on Tuesday – with Whalley on target in the 2-1 friendly win at Hereford.

And the creative schemer is looking forward to being a central figure for Town throughout the 2021/22 campaign.

“It is a relatively new role for me.” Whalley said.

“But it’s about doing what I always do – working hard, create chances, spotting passes and scoring goals.

“I’ll play wherever the manager wants me to play but I do feel comfortable playing there.

“It is a bit harder defensively, it’s about getting on second balls, marking your man.

“But wherever you play on the pitch, you have to be better than your opponent.”

While most footballers seem to dread pre-season, Whalley revealed it’s actually a time of year he enjoys.

“It’s about hard work first and foremost,” the 33-year-old said, when asked what pre-season is like under Cotterill.

“But that is what you expect and that is what you want.

“It’s a tough schedule but everything is going well.

“We are working really hard and looking forward to the weeks ahead.

“Pre-season has been tough but I always enjoy pre-season, getting into shape.

“I feel like I say this every year, but fitness wise I feel as good as ever so long may that continue.

“I’m really looking forward to the season.”

Town registered their second successive win of pre-season by beating National League North outfit Hereford on Tuesday.

But they didn’t have things their own way at Edgar Street.

The hosts took the lead early in the second half and were arguably the better side for the best part of 80 minutes.

But late, quick-fire, goals from Whalley and Dan Udoh turned the friendly on its head.

“I think the big positive from the night was the character we showed by coming from behind to win,” Whalley added.

“We went behind and they had their tails up.

“Their fans were getting behind them when they went one-nil up and they had a chance to get a second.

“But I’ve got a goal and Udoh has got the winner.

“It was brilliant to come back and get the win.”

Meanwhile, former Shrewsbury defender Joe Riley has confirmed his retirement from football at the age of 29.

The full-back has been forced to call time of his career early because of a knee injury.

Riley joined Shrewsbury in 2016 and spent two years with the club, playing 55 rimes and scoring three goals.

The defender tweeted: “Unfortunately I’m being forced to retire through my knee injury, gutted I’ve got to retire at 29 but I’ve been able to live my dream for 10 years.”

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