Smith expecting battle at Shrewsbury

Stevenage's Steve Beleck battling with Oldham's Cliff Byrne

Stevenage's Steve Beleck battling with Oldham's Cliff Byrne - Credit: Archant

LOOKING ahead to Saturday’s League 1 trip to Shrewsbury Town, Boro manager Gary Smith is expecting a similar challenge to the one his side faced in midweek, and said captain Mark Roberts could return to the side.

Oldham’s direct tactics on Tuesday night came as no surprise to those who had witnessed their FA Cup heroics three days earlier as they drew 2-2 with Everton, and Smith is aware that his side are going to have to deal with the direct style a lot better on Saturday.

“I suspect the other night was the epitome of what you might run into against sides that are struggling for points,” he said.

“Quite direct, no lack of effort and energy but in terms of structurally how they’re going to approach the game there’s one thing on their mind: let’s get the ball as close to the opponent’s goal as possible and put them under pressure to make mistakes.

“Mark [Roberts] comes back into my reckoning and thought process for the next period of time.

“He was never out of my reckoning to be honest it was just a decision I felt was necessary at that time, a tough one as well.”

Shrewsbury have added two loan strikers to their squad over the past week, with Chris Porter and Tom Eaves, 6ft 1ins and 6ft 5ins respectively, both available for the weekend clash.

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“Shrewsbury are in a similar position [to Oldham] – you don’t add Porter and Eaves if you’re not going to be direct or you’re not looking for lots of crosses and dead balls – it’s pointless,” said Smith.

“So we’ll expect that they’re going to be up and at ‘em, they’re going to be pretty straight forward and competitive to a tee.”

Felipe Morais and Greg Tansey are injury doubts ahead the trip to New Meadow, but Smith is confident the two can play some part.

“Greg and Felipe have got injury issues, we’re hopeful that we can get them back and patched up for the game at the weekend and be part of the squad.

“We’ve got one or two guys, along with a lot of other teams, that we’re just getting through game to game and making sure that they get the right recovery time to get back on the field again.”

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