Shrewsbury Town forward Shaun Whalley feeling like his old self

Shaun Whalley has rediscovered his confidence after admitting a freak opening-day hand injury threatened to derail his season.

Shaun Whalley of Shrewsbury Town and Luke Murphy of Crewe Alexandra. (AMA)
Shaun Whalley of Shrewsbury Town and Luke Murphy of Crewe Alexandra. (AMA)

Saturday’s 1-1 home draw against Crewe was just a second League One start of the campaign for the 34-year-old Shrewsbury favourite, in which he came through 90 minutes unscathed.

His other start was the season curtain-raiser against Burton, 30 seconds into which he was subject of a sickening hand injury, where a Brewers boot landed on his palm and ripped the limb open.

Winger Whalley, into his seventh season at Town, looked something approaching his sharp self against the Railwaymen on Saturday and confessed he had felt like the injury had held him back in recent cup games and league cameos.

“For me personally it’s been a tremendously frustrating start with the hand injury,” Whalley said. “Even playing in a couple of the cup games, my confidence hasn’t been there.

“Whether that’s getting fouled and putting my hand down or whatever, but thankfully the manager put me back in and I tried to work as hard as I could. I think the more I play the sharper I’ll get.”

Town striker Sam Cosgrove gave Steve Cotterill’s hosts the lead against Crewe on Saturday as Salop scored the first goal in a game for the first time this season.

But the wait for a clean sheet goes on as Mikael Mandron levelled just before the interval and Crewe came closest to a winner in a lively second half.

Whalley, who is three games from 200 league outings for Town and 11 from 250 appearances in all competitions, suffered a setback in his rehab after the hand injury required restitching at hospital a few weeks ago.

He added: “I’d worked so hard in pre-season and for that to happen in 30 seconds...at the time I thought the lad had done it on purpose but I watched it back a million times and it was just a freak accident. The two cup games I played I haven’t been myself. A bit of confidence, it felt weird training and not playing.

“People know I’m all-action and want to run about everywhere but I just felt it was holding me back.

“I wasn’t myself on the pitch and people were probably able to see that, I was struggling to get any form going.

“I wasn’t unbelievable on Saturday, I wasn’t tip-top Shaun Whalley, but I thought I worked hard and created a couple of chances and had a couple of shots, won a lot of fouls.

“The more I play the sharper and more confident I’ll get.”

Town boss Cotterill, whose side climb one place to 21st, was pleased with his team’s character and the manner of their defending against fellow drop zone side Crewe.

Cotterill added of Whalley: “If Shaun wants to open up about it that’s OK and his prerogative, but I don’t think he’s been quite right.

“We live with that, we’ve got a family in that dressing room.”

“We’ll enjoy the good times together and we have to accept the painful times that come and Shaun’s been through one of those little periods, he won’t play all the time, because of his age.

“Where Shaun’s 34 and can’t do all of the games, we’ve got young Tom Bloxham whose 17 and won’t be able to do all of the games. We’ve got to try to strike that balance of when to give them a rest and break.”

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