Sam Ricketts: Shrewsbury have a solid base to work from
Sam Ricketts feels Shrewsbury Town have a solid base to build from as they step up their preparations for the new League One season.
Town lost 1-0 to a strong Aston Villa side in their first Montgomery Waters Meadow friendly of the summer in front of a packed house, with Scott Hogan netting the second-half winner.
But Town fans, most seeing the new-look squad for the first time, left feeling encouraged with Ricketts' squad with under two weeks left until the league curtain-raiser against Portsmouth.
The Shrews boss was impressed with aspects of his squad in the sold-out friendly, which he wanted to see played with a more competitive feel.
"There were some really good bits," said Ricketts. "I went into the game specifically wanting to see some aspects of what we've been working on.
"There were a lot of good bits to take away from the game. A real good base to work from now.
"We still want to improve to get better but there's a base of a performance and I was really pleased.
"I wanted to try to make it as realistic as we could. I didn't want it to feel like another pre-season game.
"Nearly every game we've had has had a testimonial-pre-season feeling about it.
"I wanted it to feel as much as a real game as we could get to.
"Every goal kick we went long and it was just to practice it, we haven't had that in any game yet. It doesn't mean we'll always go like that but we wanted to practice it."
Only Fejiri Okenabirhie of the starting XI was at Shrewsbury this time last year, while the starting line-up also featured three January signings and the remaining were new faces.
"I was really pleased with how the fitness levels looked in a lot of them. Some of them still need to pick it up a little bit," the manager, who will use a much-changed side at Cheltenham on Tuesday, added.
"We've got just under two weeks now to physically improve and as a team.
"We're trying to build a team with a base to work from. Only Ro-Shaun (Williams) was here from last season from the defence.
"There's a lot of new faces, we're trying to embed and find a way of playing as well.
"The players can take an awful lot of confidence which is really pleasing. We worked a lot of the defensive side which was very good."