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Shrewsbury head to Liverpool on their best run of the season

Despite their issues with personnel, Liverpool will head into their FA Cup third-round clash with Shrewsbury as favourites, but the League One side are in strong form.

As it stands, the Reds are expected to fulfil their Anfield fixture on Sunday despite the League Cup semi-final at Arsenal being postponed just three days previous.

Jurgen Klopp is in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19, but he and the trio of Alisson, Joel Matip and Roberto Firmino could all return by the weekend.

That would be a big boost for Liverpool, who postponed their FA Youth Cup fourth-round clash with Burnley in anticipation of the under-18s being required to feature at senior level.

But whichever side is deployed at Anfield, the expectation will be for the Reds to secure progress to the next stage, as Shrewsbury’s Elliott Bennett told the club’s official website.

“The pressure is obviously a little bit less for us this time around,” he said, with Shrewsbury having overcome non-league Stratford in the first round.

“No one in the whole country is expecting us to go to Liverpool and win.

“The same way when we played Stratford everyone was expecting us to win, and they go 1-0 up and you think ‘what’s going on? Is this going to be a bit of FA Cup magic?’.

“Thankfully it wasn’t that day, [but] hopefully we can have a bit more magic on Sunday.”

There is a belief within the Shrewsbury squad that they can challenge Liverpool, albeit with a win unlikely, with this strengthened by their recent form.

SHREWSBURY, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 26, 2020: Shrewsbury Town supporters during the FA Cup 4th Round match between Shrewsbury Town FC and Liverpool FC at the New Meadow. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Steve Cotterill’s side are currently on their longest unbeaten run of the campaign so far, at four games, having taken three wins and draw in that period.

That has included victories over Cheltenham, Fleetwood and Sheffield Wednesday, with a 0-0 draw coming at home to Accrington Stanley.

On three previous occasions this term, Shrewsbury have gone three games without defeat.

They currently sit 14th in League One, though they have played more games than any other side in the third tier due to a number of postponements.

Bennett, who signed on a free transfer from Blackburn in the summer, has been one of Cotterill’s most important players, along with another new arrival in ex-Everton defender Matthew Pennington.

SHREWSBURY, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 26, 2020: Liverpool's Dejan Lovren (L) challenges for a header with Shrewsbury Town's Daniel Udoh during the FA Cup 4th Round match between Shrewsbury Town FC and Liverpool FC at the New Meadow. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Strikers Daniel Udoh (pictured) and Ryan Bowman are joint-top scorers for the campaign so far, with nine apiece, while midfielder Luke Leahy is third-highest having struck five times, along with four assists.

However, Udoh is a doubt for the trip to Anfield due to injury, in the only fitness issue for Shrewsbury – though he will be given every chance to start.

Cotterill has deployed a variation on a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 in almost every game this season, with captain Ethan Ebanks-Landell at the heart of his defence.

Probable Shrewsbury XI: Marosi; Nurse, Ebanks-Landell, Pennington; Bennett, Leahy, Davis, Vela, Ogbeta; Bowman, Udoh

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