Date: 26th December 2007 at 11:21am
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County visit New Meadow today for a Boxing Day clash with Shrewsbury.

Last season, County felt the full force of Andy Cooke, as the experienced hitman hit two hattricks against us in two games, one in the 3-0 defeat and one in the 4-2 defeat on New Years Day.

County will be full of hope this time around though, as last season it was our home form getting us by, and our away form was terrible. But this season, ironically its our away form that is getting us by, with our home form being 5 defeats on the trot, and then a 6-0 win and a 1-1 draw.

A win today would close the gap with Shrewsbury to one point, as they lie in 9th place.

* Defender Jamie Smith has been offered a permanenet deal with County and wil sit down to discuss it this week. The popular Liverpudlian enjoyed a good loan spell with County earlier this season, and has now been told he is surplus to requirements at Liverpool.

Vital Quotes:

Jim Gannon: ‘If we want to push up the league then we’ve got to be much stronger in the defensive department.

‘We’ve had a difficult three or four months with injuries, and while the boys are starting to take some of our ideas on board, there’s still too much inconsistency.

‘We have to work hard on the training ground to improve the consistency, consolidate what we’ve got and push on to reinforce the new things we’ve brought into the side.’

Shrewsbury Team News:

Centre half Colin Murdock could return after a calf injury.

Midfielder Luke Jones, after being replaced by Darren Kempson at half time in he 2-1 defeat of Accrington, could be dropped to the bench.

Player to watch: Dave Hibbert

One time County target Hibbert scored in the reverse fixture at Edgeley Park this season with a well placed header.

He looks very strong and quick, and the former Preston man has scored 9 goals already this season. He will be a handful tomorrow.

County Team News:

Jason Taylor is still a doubt after limping off in the 2-0 win at Macc.

Gary Dicker is now fit and could start, Dom Blizzard and Ash Williams are one week closer to returning, and Keith Briggs may play his penultimate game for County as his contract expires on the 1st January along with Michael Bowler.

Player to watch: Adam Proudlock

Proudlock has scored 9 goals this season, and his true ability has started to shine through. If some fans could lay off him a bit, and not expect him to score a 50 yard stunner every time he gets the ball, he will shine.

Match Odds

Shrews – 19/20
Draw – 23/10
County – 9/4

Ref Watch:

Mr Woolmer has dished out 56 yellow cards in 19 games this season, and since 2003, he has refereed the 2-0 defeat two days before Christmas at Wycombe last year, the 3-1 away win at Grimsby on a Friday night, and the 1-0 defeat at home to Boston with Julian Joachim grabbing the goal.

Next Fixtures:

Wrexham vs COUNTY L2 (A) Racecourse Ground 3pm