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Match Previews

Paul Hurst Pre Oxford

10 November 2016

Gaffer looks ahead to the game with Oxford United

Shrewsbury Town Manager Paul Hurst is looking forward to being back in league action on Saturday.

Town take on an Oxford United side that were promoted to League One last season and currently sit 17th in the league.

Town have won their last two games 3-0 in the FA Cup and Checkatrade Trophy respectively and Hurst has been pleased with the start the players have made, but admits that Saturday’s game is their biggest test yet. 

“I’m pleased with the players’ attitude in terms of training and attitude and trying to take things on board,” Paul told the Press.

“What I would say is we’ve played three different systems so far and that is certainly something I’m not looking to do long term.

“I want us to try and get a set way of playing more often than not, but I do feel that with where we currently are there has to be a certain element of being willing to change slightly.

“Whether it’s to have a different plan or whether it’s to counter the opposition to what they throw at us, but realistically I would like to try and settle down eventually to one system.

“You could argue so far that every system has worked to a degree because the results have been okay, but the bigger test starts on Saturday.”

After some good performances in recent games Paul has a real decision to make on Saturday when it comes to team selection and he believes that it will be the first time that his man management skills will come into play.

“We’ve come in and told the players what we are looking for and some of those things are simple things that realistically I could have invited a fan into say,” Paul continued. 

“We want to see smiles on faces. In order to do that we need to see better performances, get a bit of belief if we can and the last two games have potentially given us a bit of a lift to build on what was a hard earned point at Southend.

“Are we going to get tougher opposition? Yes, but when you haven’t been winning games that is still a tough task. Aided by the fact we have got two clean sheets and scored 6 goals, so from that point of view it couldn’t have gone much better.

“What I would say is that in the next week or so there’s going to be decisions for me that are good. Leaving people out that have perhaps done okay.

“A lot of the players have had an opportunity to play in the first team and impress and now this weekend it will be the first time that I can choose the best team to go out there and some lads will be upset with that because they won’t be in that starting line-up.

“So, in some ways that’s when the job starts in terms of managing individuals and personalities, but it’s also probably going to be the first time where I will get to see their personalities.”

Oxford United have struggled in recent weeks, but manager Michael Appleton is highly thought of and Hurst is expecting a tough game.

“I think they are a very good side,” said Paul.

“They’ve got some dangerous players. The times that I saw them last season I thought they were exceptional. I watched them against Milwall on TV and they were outstanding.

“They’ve lost a couple of players unfortunately for them, but still got some impressive individuals. Going forward they’ve got a lot of energy. They seem to press very well from the front.

“The front two aren’t your traditional centre forwards. There’s a lot of movement and when they find themselves in different areas it seems a fluid front four and I’m surprised they’re not a little bit higher.

“I think they are a team that went up and it wouldn’t surprise me if they are challenging come the end of the season. I think that would be their aim. I don’t think they would be happy just to be in League One.

“I know the manager a little bit and he’s clearly an ambitious guy that wants to kick on and from the outside at least it looks like the club wants to move forward. We are under no illusion, it’s going to be a difficult task.

“The last two games have been great for us in terms of scoring goals and just trying to get the lads to know what it feel like to win games of football again, but we do know that this is going to be a more difficult test and we’ve got to be on our game if we are going to keep our little run going.”

Meanwhile, Joe Riley continues to nurse his knee problem, whilst Jayson Leutwiler and Ryan McGivern are away on international duty. Hurst also confirmed there was one other injury worry, but he was keeping to name close to his chest. 

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