MATCH PREVIEW: Players urged to start smiling again

Michael Bostwick is expected to stay in defence for Posh at Shrewsbury. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.
Michael Bostwick is expected to stay in defence for Posh at Shrewsbury. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.
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Peterborough United manager Grant McCann has urged his players to start playing with smiles on faces again.

McCann believes his team have become weighed down by statistics involving poor starts and average home form. He will order his players to perform with freedom and to express themselves when they take on struggling Shrewsbury at the New Meadow tomorrow (September 27, 7.45pm).

Posh striker Tom Nichols retains the support of manager Grant McCann. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

Posh striker Tom Nichols retains the support of manager Grant McCann. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

Posh have scored four goals on each of their last two visits to this venue and McCann wants to see a return to that form after a run of four League One games without a win.

Posh are 10th going into the first of two away matches this week - they travel to another bottom four club Southend on Saturday (October 2) - six points off top spot and just two points off the top six.

McCann said: “I’ve been banging on and on about the need to start games better and I think it’s got into the players’ heads a bit.

“I’ll ignore all that tomorrow and just tell them to play with a smile on their faces. I want them to play with the freedom to express themselves.

Posh centre-back Ricardo Santos has been a transfer target of a National League side. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

Posh centre-back Ricardo Santos has been a transfer target of a National League side. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

“This league has been so even so far, any team who goes on a winning run of three, four or five games will find themselves in a great position.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we have the ability to put such a run together as soon as we start finishing more of the many scoring chances we create.

“Consistency is huge at our level and it will come. I have no doubt about that.

“In the times I’ve won promotion from League One, my team has been in and around the top by Christmas.

“And once you are there it becomes hard to knock you down. You start playing with more confidence and teams fear you a bit more. That’s where I want us to be.

“Shrewsbury away won’t be an easy game. They have an experienced manager in Micky Mellon and an experienced number two., but they’ve had an iffy start to the season.”

McCann could well stick with the starting line-up he believes did enough to win Saturday’s (September 24) 1-1 home draw with Walsall.

Striker Tom Nichols hasn’t scored for seven matches, but McCann remains a big fan. The manager also has no plans to use Michael Bostwick’s ball-winning skills in midfield.

McCann added: “We are working hard every day on improving our ability to put the ball in the back of the net more regularly.

“Playing Paul Taylor further upfield worked well on Saturday as he has so much variety to his game.

“And Tom Nichols is all about making runs in behind defenders. He’s a very clever forward whose movement is also very intelligent.

“I want all my midfielders to be comfortable on the ball as I want us to win games by dominating possession. Michael Bostwick accepts there are players in our squad better equipped to do that, and anyway he is playing very well in defence.

“I am lucky to have three very good central defenders as well as Ricardo Santos who is striving to improve every day.”

McCann is willing to let Santos, midfielder Adil Nabi and striker Shaquile Coulthirst leave on loan to get some match time. A National League side did try and take Santos earlier this month, but Posh rebuffed the move as Ryan Tafazolli was still sidelined by injury.