Shrewsbury Town prepare to begin one of the strangest campaigns in footballing history when they take on promotion hopefuls Portsmouth.
The Government announcement of ‘crowd trials’ for the month of September has been scrapped; over public health fears.
Fans had hoped to back in grounds in October – albeit at a significantly reduced capacity, yet a rise in coronavirus cases has put this on hold.
Instead, Shrewsbury will kick-off the 2020/21 campaign at an eerie Fratton Park, a stadium usually associated with a raucous atmosphere.
On a positive note, Town boss Sam Ricketts could welcome Ollie Norburn back into the fold. The skipper had knee surgery prior to lockdown and could return to the bench tomorrow afternoon.
Former Bolton midfielder Josh Vela can return after being suspended for the 4-3 Carabao Cup defeat against Middlesbrough.
Wolves loanee Matija Sarkic is likely to be in his first Shrewsbury Town squad. The Montenegro international was an unused substitute during his country’s Nations League wins over Cyprus and Luxembourg.
Aaron Pierre could return to the starting line-up. The Grenada international was left on the bench against Boro, sparking speculation over an imminent exit; but Sam Ricketts has since cited fitness issues for his omission. Dan Udoh is also now up to full speed.
Town have lost just two of their last nine meetings against Portsmouth. Their last win at Fratton Park arrived thanks to a solitary James Bolton goal, who now lines up for the 2008 FA Cup winners.
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett is under pressure to deliver a return to Championship football this season. His side lost out to Oxford in the play-offs in July.
He will be without first choice goalkeeper Alex Bass who suffered an ankle injury during a penalty shootout win against Stevenage. Former Shrewsbury goalkeeper Craig MacGillivray is expected to deputise.
Youngster Haji Mnoga is likely to go out on loan, whilst Connor Johnson will be eyeing a debut after his arrival from Accrington.
Portsmouth are attempting to stave off offers for Reeco Hackett-Fairchild amid reported interest from recently relegated Hull City.
Possible Line Ups
1.MacGillivray, 13. Bolton, 5. Downing, 6. Whatmough, 3. Brown, 4. Naylor, 17. Morris, 19. Harness, 26. Evans, 11. Curtis, 9. Marquis
Subs: 1. Johnson, 7. Williams, 8. Close, 14. Cannon, 20. Raggett, 40. Stanley, 41. Turnbull
1.Burgoyne, 17. Love, 2. Pierre, 24. Ebanks-Landell, 3. Golbourne, 25. High, 16. Walker, 4. Edwards, 35. Cummings, 9. Pyke, 7. Whalley
Subs: 1.Norburn, 18. Fossey, 20. Vela, 22. Daniels, 23. Udoh, 28. Goss, Sarkic
Other League One Fixtures:
Accrington V Peterborough
Crewe V Charlton
Doncaster V MK Dons
Fleetwood V Burton
Gillingham V Hull
Lincoln V Oxford
Northampton V AFC Wimbledon
Plymouth V Blackpool
Sunderland V Bristol Rovers
Swindon V Rochdale
Ipswich V Wigan