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Shrewsbury Town squad depth is put to the test

Deputy Aaron Wilbraham has backed Shrewsbury's thin numbers to deliver on the big stage.

Aaron Wilbraham the assistant manager of Shrewsbury Town. (AMA)
Aaron Wilbraham the assistant manager of Shrewsbury Town. (AMA)

Town's slight squad depth is put to the test tonight as Sunderland come to town with a couple of key names missing for the hosts' first home fixture in exactly a month.

Steve Cotterill is without suspended right wing-back Elliott Bennett, who serves a one-game ban for his red card last Saturday, while Shaun Whalley faces a long road to recovery from a thigh tear and Josh Daniels (ankle) is not ready to return.

While acknowledging unavailability is hampering Town, assistant boss Wilbraham believes the Town ranks are in better shape than they were when the manager took over an inflated squad this time last year.

"In the last five or six league games I think we've definitely turned a bit of a corner in terms of finding our feet," said Wilbraham.

"The performances have been more consistent, we were really unlucky on Saturday and we've got to take the positives from that rather than look at it as a negative.

"There were a lot of good things in there, we were unfortunate with the sending off and penalty being a double-punishment, we have to get over it, dust ourselves off and go again.

"I think the team's looking good. The suspension and injury is killing us a little bit.

"This time last year we probably had a squad of 29, it's a lot smaller squad this year, but I don't see it being any weaker than when we had 29.

"It's alright having the bodies, but if they're not the right bodies to fill in then what's the point in having such a big squad?

"The fact we are more close-knit, (there) is a better team spirit. Although there's less of a squad, I don't think it makes us any weaker."

Saturday's defeat at Cheltenham marked a return to league action after three weeks away and tomorrow's return to Montgomery Waters Meadow sees Town protect a good run of four wins from six home league games.

The Black Cats, who sit sixth in League One, are likely to be backed by a big away following. Wilbraham said: "The atmosphere lifts the players, if the away team bring a bigger support then maybe it livens our lads up a little bit.

"Sunderland have always had good support following them and I'm sure that will add to the atmosphere tonight."

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