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Club News

MANAGER: We want to keep the momentum going

Keith Millen lookas ahead to tomorrow's game

3 December 2021

It’s a second cup game in the space of a week for the Blues at Brunton Park on Saturday when League One side Shrewsbury Town head north to battle for a place in the Emirates FA Cup third-round.

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A huge fan of the competition, manager Keith Millen admitted that he didn’t think it held as much ‘magic’ for players as it had back in his playing days, when the televised final would break TV viewing figures year after year.

“I don’t think the feeling is there in players as much as it was when I was playing,” he said. “I think it’s changed because unfortunately the priority for Premier League teams is their league, which I understand because of the finances involved in staying in there.

“I think you can look at teams in the lower leagues who have had good cup runs, and the publicity you get if you score a winning goal or something like that can enhance your career.

“The idea of us trying to get to the third round is the holy grail really, because we’ve got the chance maybe to go and play at a big stadium, which is something to look forward to. I’ll make sure I come up with something to try and help us win the game.”

“Look, we’re the same at our level,” he continued. “The league is the priority, and it will be on Tuesday. If there’s a player who I feel might suffer through playing on Saturday, then I’ll look at it.

Match Previews

PREVIEW: Shrewsbury

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“We want to keep the momentum going which breeds confidence into the players, so there’s lot of things to consider when picking teams for cup games. The league is the priority, but there are a lot of things I have to weigh up to get the best out of the players for the Mansfield game as well.

“But tomorrow’s game has to be seen as a positive distraction. I think the confidence we will gain from playing a League One team on Tuesday, and competing then winning on penalties will give us more confidence going into Saturday.

“We know it will be another tough game against a League One team, and you could see the step up in divisions on Tuesday in respect of possession. Shrewsbury are slightly different in their formation, they tend to play a 3-5-2, so that’s something we need to work on and be aware of from a tactical point of view.

“They didn’t have a midweek game so I imagine they’ll be full strength. This is a big one for them because their league form hasn’t been great, even though they’ve done ok in recent games.

“Their league position will be a concern to them but they will possibly see this is a nice distraction. Having a free week to prepare might help them, but we’ll see.”

Match Previews

MATCH UPDATE: Shrewsbury

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With the ‘big boys’ entering the draw at the next stage, he commented: “We all know if we get through that the right draw means that financially this competition can bring a massive reward for anyone.

“Of course, any sort of financial gain the club can have, and also the players, the players are on a bonus, but I’d like to think from a player’s point of view it’s not so much the finances, it’s the opportunity of what can come from it.

“For players at our level it gives them the chance to possibly play at a top stadium against top teams, and that’s a great incentive. For me it’s the next game, and I want to win it for that reason alone.

“I say that a lot, but it’s true, because the result means I’m happy all weekend, or I’m sad. It doesn’t matter what competition it’s in, I just want to win. It has a huge impact on the way I live my life if we lose, so it’s big for me for that reason.

“This game overall isn’t necessarily that big but the consequence of winning it can be big. I hope that’s the mindset the lads will have. I will make sure the lads realise how big the game is and I’m sure they do.

“We’ll certainly give everything we can to win it. Whatever happens, after that game we’ll pick the pieces up and move on to Mansfield.

“That’s why team selection is important. It’s based around medical advice, but it’s not solely on that. There’s no way I’m going to be leaving players out just because we’ve got Mansfield on Tuesday.

“If they’re fit, healthy and full of running they will be playing, as long as I feel that’s our strongest team. I wouldn’t put players at risk of injury, so they have to be fit.

“The physical side of it, my strength and conditioning coach will discuss who’s still fresh. We have got a few options on the bench we can change, if I feel players are tired.

“We’ve had a meeting this afternoon [Thursday] to discuss what’s our best team to win the game, having looked at what Shrewsbury do. That has to be our mindset. The welfare of the players is a big consideration into that.”

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With Shrewsbury enjoying improved results recently, they come with players who can do damage if they’re given the freedom to play.

“I would say the strength of their team is that they’ve got good pace in the wing-backs, they give them energy going up and down the line,” he explained. “They normally play with a two and a 10 behind them sometimes; them three together are a handful.

“We’ve hopefully recognised that and will do some work on it. We’ve identified what we think they’re good at and we’ve got to nullify that.

“I don’t think they’re such a possession team as Lincoln were on Tuesday, but they’re effective in what they do. We know we’ve got to deal with their front players if we have a chance of winning the game.

“I know Steve [Cotterill] their manager, he’s managed Bristol, and we’ve come across each other quite a lot. He had real problems with Covid over the last year or so, fingers crossed he’s over that now, and it will be good to catch up with him, and his assistant, Aaron Wilbraham.

“I worked with him at Crystal Palace, so I know him well as a player. It’s a couple of good friends that I’ll be bumping into on Saturday. I’m sure we’ll have a few things to say on the touchline during the game!”


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