With the January transfer window now having been open for a week, clubs across the EFL are scrambling to make changes to their squad. Hoping that at the end of this hectic month, they will be in a position to push on and reach their goals.
It is particularly tight, points wise, in League One. As teams such as Shrewsbury Town and Lincoln City know that successful transfer business could mean the difference between a relegation battle and a play-off push.
However the immediate issue for both teams is dealing with Saturday's game, as they go head to head at Montgomery Waters Meadow.
Story behind the game
Shrewsbury go into the game looking to recover from a midweek defeat at Doncaster Rovers, which saw them fall to 15th in the table, just one place above Lincoln. Sam Rickett's side have picked up just one point form their last three games, but may be distracted by the FA Cup, being just one win away from facing Liverpool. Meanwhile, Lincoln boss Michael Appleton will also be hoping for a better result than last time out, after a poor first half showing saw them lose 3-1 away at Sunderland. City are unbeaten at home in the league under Appleton, but have won only once away, so will be looking to rectify that on Saturday.
It was a goalless stalemate when these sides met at Sincil Bank earlier in the season, with Lincoln playing the latter stages with ten men following Cian Bolger's dismissal. Prior to this season, the two met at Wembley in the 2018 final of the EFL Trophy, with the then League Two side Lincoln coming out on top. The last time they met in Shrewsbury was October 2010, with the home side winning 2-0, in the season that Lincoln were ultimately relegated to the National League.
A win for either side on Saturday will reduce fears of being sucked into a relegation battle, and potentially give them hopes of the play-offs.
Ricketts may be inclined to rest players with their midweek tie against Bristol City in mind, though they are likely to still field three at the back, as it is their preferred formation. In terms of fitness, right-back Ryan Sears edges closer to a return, having been out since April last year with an ACL injury.
In the other camp, Appleton will be without experienced centre-back Michael Bostwick for 6-8 weeks after coming off against Sunderland. Meanwhile winger Bruno Andrade closes in on a return after his hamstring injury, but will still be out for a few more weeks at least.
(3-4-3) O'Leary, Williams, Pierre, Ebanks-Landell, Love, Norburn, Laurent, Golbourne, Whalley, Cummings, Giles.
(4-2-3-1) Vickers, Eardley, Bolger, Shackell, Toffolo, Morrell, Grant, Anderson, Payne, Hesketh, Walker.
Shaun Whalley v Cian Bolger
Wideman Shaun Whalley started on the bench in Shrewsbury's midweek loss to Doncaster, so he'll be hoping to be in from the beginning on Saturday. The former Luton Town player will come up against Irishman Cian Bolger, who was also on the bench in his side's last match. Bolger was sent off when he caught Whalley with a flailing arm in October, so expect a feisty clash when the two meet again.
Aaron Pierre v Tyler Walker
A key part of Shrewsbury's back three is former Wycombe Wanderers player Aaron Pierre, who successfully kept a clean sheet against Lincoln in their previous meeting. He will be looking to do so again on Saturday, but will have to quell the threat of in-form striker Tyler Walker in order to do that. Walker has scored four goals in his last three matches, and there is talk of parent club Nottingham Forest wanting to recall him, but Lincoln will be hoping that he can stay and provide them with the goals to push them up the league.
What the managers have said
Shrewsbury boss Ricketts told the club's media how he anticipates a tough test against Lincoln. He said:
“It's a really tough game, as every game is. We will need to be ready. Lincoln like to play with wingers and one up top. They are well organised and have some good senior professionals.
“They are an established side who have done well, especially last year by getting promotion.
“They have done well this season, even throughout turbulent times with the Cowleys going. Michael is there now and is doing a fantastic job. They have picked up some really good results recently.”
Meanwhile Lincoln manager Appleton is not expecting Shrewsbury to lose focus this weekend, speaking to Radio Lincolnshire, he said:
“I know Sam (Ricketts) a little but and I'd be surprised if he allows his players to do that (lose focus).
“They had a decent start to the season. I know they lost in midweek, but they're very, very difficult to play against because they've got a good structure with the three centre-halves.
“Out of possession, they become a five very quickly, but when they win the ball they break quickly and they've got some dangerous players at the top end of the pitch.”