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Mowbray: A game we're relishing

Tony talks Shrews, Smallwood and more

12 January 2018

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Rovers boss Tony Mowbray insists his side will have to be at their best on Saturday against an "athletic and organised team" when Shrewsbury visit Ewood Park.

It's a big clash at the top of League One, with Rovers just a place and five points behind the Shrews prior to matchday.

But Mowbray has plenty of belief in his squad and admits he's relishing the challenge against Paul Hurst's outfit.

"Shrewsbury have three or four points more now than they achieved all of last season. That shows a real change of mentality and shows something huge has changed their fortunes," Mowbray told iFollow.

"When I watch them I see an athletic and organised team who do what they do very well.

"It's a good test for us but one we're really looking forward to.

"They have a high energy team and athletic footballers. We can match that with desire and commitment. We'll give everything and we'll have to because that's exactly what Shrewsbury have done all season.

"It can be two points or it could be eight points. Things can swing very quickly. We can win back-to-back matches pretty consistently. We need to be focused and concentrated and at home we expect to find a performance which earns us those three points."

Richie Smallwood wasn't risked in the FA Cup last week, with Mowbray knowing that one more booking will result in a two-match ban for his midfielder.

And Tony believes bookings are part of Richie's game, with the midfielder doing the dirty work at the heart of the Rovers midfield.

"Richie is what he is. We have to embrace him," Tony said.

"He trains how he plays and catches a few team-mates every now and then. He wants to win at everything he does and is so competitive.

"He always plays with his heart on his sleeve. If and when this tenth booking comes then he's going to miss two games and hopefully we can deal with that."

And the manager is expecting a better performance from his players from the last meeting against the Shrews at New Meadow earlier in the season, in a 1-1 draw.

"It was a really poor performance from us in the fixture at Shrewsbury aside from maybe the final 20 minutes. The team know when we've performed well and when we haven't."

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