Accrington Stanley manager John Coleman says the Reds will have a ‘good chance’ of challenging at the top of League One if all his squad remain fit – and he also knows how important home form is.
Coleman’s men take on Shrewsbury Town at the Wham Stadium on Saturday with Steve Cotterill’s side recording their first league win of the campaign against Gillingham last weekend after four defeats.
Stanley, who have won their two league home games so far, will be without internationals James Trafford and Dion Charles and also have Seamus Conneely, John O’Sullivan and Joe Pritchard on the treatment table.
Coleman managed to keep hold of striker Colby Bishop, despite interest from Peterborough, and he added defender Mitch Clark and midfielder Ethan Hamilton permanently to the squad while defender Yeboah Amankwah and striker Jovan Malcolm arrived on loan in the last week before the transfer window closed on Tuesday.
“If we can keep Seamus, Johnno and Joe all fit, with the ones who are fit now, and keep them altogether, we have a good chance as we have a strong squad,” said Coleman.
“Teams don’t like playing us because they know we have a great work ethic, we play football and compete until the 90th minute.
“You can’t rest on your laurels and say we have got a good enough squad as you will go backwards so we are always looking to improve.
“We have had a good week’s training and we are trying to iron out what went wrong on Saturday at MK Dons although there wasn’t a great deal.
“We know we have a decent squad. We have a lot of young lads coming through who can definitely step up in ones or twos and a strong first team squad and we have to build on that and try and get as many points on board as quickly as possible.
“You are just trying to win games and do whatever you can to win games. I would like us to play a bit more of an aesthetically pleasing style of football but sometimes that’s not the case, sometimes you are not allowed to do that but it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be for want of trying.
“We have got into a bit of a routine now where we are choosing to go long a little bit too quickly and we going to have to iron that out as we have got players who are capable of passing through the lines, who are capable of making chances.
“You see how much of a threat Colby was when the ball came into the box to him on Tuesday against Barrow so we are going to have to focus more on that, getting more balls into the box.
“We also know, if we are going to be successful in this league, we have got to have good home form and the fans make a massive difference, we all appreciate it.”
Some of the squad players made their first Stanley appearance in the Papa John’s Trophy 2-2 draw with Barrow on Tuesday, which the Reds won on penalties and Coleman said it was a good moment for them.
“That’s a moment the lads will never forget, I remember me making my senior debut for Kirkby Town and the thrill that felt for me.
“These lads have got to try and grab the opportunity when it comes.”
Stanley could shoot up the table from ninth into the top two with a win tomorrow with just three League One games going ahead due to international call-ups.
Coleman admitted he thinks either all the league should be off or all should play.
“It is a frustration we have to play. I don’t think it’s fair teams in our league shouldn’t be playing.
“If you look at the more affluent teams, they have a chance to work for two weeks with their new players and that’s an opportunity we won’t get.
“We will also lose two players, two starters, to international duty so that’s unfair.
“It should be a blanket off or everyone else get on with it but we don’t make the rules and we have to adhere to them, we have got to get on with it.”
Shrews boss Steve Cotterill was hospitalised with Covid from January and missed a lot of the second half of last season, including Shrewsbury’s last visit to the Wham which was a draw.
They are currently in 22nd place, having finished 17th spot last season.
“If you look at their games so far, they have been unfortunate, they have been unlucky,” said Coleman. “They’ll be thinking they have the win and trying to kick on.
“Steve Cotterill did unbelievably well when he came in last year and he is capable of doing well again.
“He has done well to battle through Covid and I know how enthusiastic he is about football so I am sure he will have them right up for it on Saturday.”
The full pre-match interview video with John Coleman is available to watch on the club's official YouTube channel, CLICK HERE to find out more!